Hacker Attack Crashes
Windows Systems Coast-To-Coast

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Computer security experts blame hackers for an Internet attack that caused computers running Microsoft's Windows NT software to crash from coast to coast, mostly in government and university offices.
While no real harm was done, it was too early to gauge the full extent of the attack. Experts said the far-flung glitches could only have been the result of a deliberate act, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Wednesday.
The crash Monday night affected computers running Windows NT -- the operating system for larger computers and networks -- and Windows 95.
Problems were reported at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Minnesota and University of California campuses in Berkeley, Irvine, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Unclassified Navy computers connected to the Internet also crashed on Point Loma and in Charleston, South Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, and elsewhere.
"It happened so fast," said Craig Huckabee, a research associate in the Computer Systems Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin. "In our department, I would have to say about 90 percent of the machines were affected."
Despite the coordination of the attack, the computers that crashed could be restarted without losing information, computer security experts said.
The attackers used the Internet to broadly distribute a snippet of deliberately malformed data, said Ron Broersma, a civilian computer security expert at the Navy labs on Point Loma.
The prank exploits a glitch in the Windows NT program by instructing the computer to devote excessive memory resources to solve a problem that can't be solved.
Microsoft security manager Ed Muth said the company is working on a software patch that fixes the vulnerability in Windows NT programs.
An unidentified Microsoft executive told the Union-Tribune it was unknown if the attack was related to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' appearance Tuesday at a Senate hearing where he defended his company against allegations of antitrust violations.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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