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Computer Virus Puts Utah Company in Limelight

Computer Virus Puts Utah Company in Limelight

Posted - Feb. 2, 2004 at 4:53 p.m.



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John Hollenhorst ReportingCollin Bunker, Westminster College Systems Engineer: “Most Linux users that I’ve talked to, or people involved in the community, aren’t maliciously angry at SCO.”

SCO and Linux, until recently you probably never heard of them unless you're a computer guru. But they seem to be central players in a worldwide war in cyberspace, with the bulls-eye painted right on the State of Utah.

The Utah County company called SCO pulled a maneuver this morning to outflank the MyDoom computer virus, which has now done $35 billion damage worldwide.

The virus is now targeting the Utah company from computers all over the world. The company is blaming Linux enthusiasts.

SCO accuses Linux users of launching the virus while some Linux enthusiasts accuse SCO of stage-managing the virus-crisis. You wouldn't think a computer program could stir up this much passion, but Linux is very nearly a religion and some true believers think of SCO as a sort of Darth Vader.

SCO is fighting back against the virus. Over the weekend the company's website crashed, overloaded under Internet attack from infected computers worldwide.

Blake Stowell, SCO Marketing & Communications: "And those hundreds of thousands of computers are now basically programmed to try and hit our site, all at the same time, thousands of times a minute."

A simple change of SCO's Internet address solved the problem, unless the virus writer has another trick up his sleeve.

Blake Stowell: "We've had to put a number of plans in place and not just a plan b, but also a plan c and d and e. So if this doesn't work, it's on to plan c."

E-mails are pouring in from all over the world too from people hoping to get the $250,000 reward SCO has offered to catch the creator of the mysterious virus. SCO suspects it was someone in the so-called Linux community, which SCO has antagonized with a long and complex court battle.

Linux is a free computer operating system, an alternative to programs like Windows. But SCO claims to actually own some of the code used in Linux, and has threatened Linux users with legal action.

Blake Stowell: "Oftentimes this community of developers chooses to sort of take the law into their own hands and do things outside the bounds of the law. And we believe this is just another instance of that happening."

Poppycock, according to Collin Bunker of Westminster College. Linux is used at the campus computer center. Bunker thinks the virus targeted SCO as a distraction and has nothing to do with Linux.

Collin Bunker/Westminster College Systems Engineer: "There's no advantage for a Linux user to do this. It's not going to make SCO step down, it's not going to make SCO retract their claims."

Bunker admits Linux users are passionate. The free program is special because anyone can tinker with its code and make changes, unlike the Windows program that made Bill Gates rich.

Collin Bunker: "A good comparison would be, if you had an automobile and the license of your automobile said you couldn't go lift the hood and fix the engine yourself. Linux says, we want you to be able to open the hood. The fact that I have access to the code gives me a sense of ownership."

The Internet is blazing lately with anti-SCO sentiments. The company has been accused of everything from actually creating the virus to exploiting the publicity to run up their stock prices. Those are laughable accusations, SCO officials say. They've welcomed the FBI to investigate.

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