The Malware Hall of Fame: Code Red

In the summer of 2001, the US government and White House were hacked from an unknown source. A worm called “Code Red” was once claimed by the FBI to be so dangerous, it had the potential to bring down the entire Internet.

What is does:

  • Uses the internet to hack into computers. If one computer is infected on a shared network, others will be compromised.
  • Replicates itself.
  • Uses social engineering to gain access. Plants fake requests to “take down” servers like the White House website.
  • Reconfigures the server. Causes web pages to display “HELLO! Welcome to! Hacked By Chinese!”

How was the name chosen?codered

Due to the shock it caused, “Code Red” sounds like an appropriate name for this worm. Funnily enough, the name actually comes from Code Red Mountain Dew! Two employees at a security company first discovered the worm while drinking Code Red Mountain Dew.

How did the attack on the White House end?

The White House was able to block the attack by the Code Red worm and the White House website never went down. However, many large companies were attacked by the worm, and it was estimated $2.75 billion in damages. Microsoft released an update that repaired the security flaw and Code Red ceased to spread.