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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
Internet Worm
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networking, security The November 1988 worm perpetrated by
Robert T. Morris. The worm was a program which took
advantage of bugs in the Sun Unix sendmail program,
Vax programs, and other security loopholes to distribute
itself to over 6000 computers on the Internet. The worm
itself had a bug which made it create many copies of itself on
machines it infected, which quickly used up all available
processor time on those systems.
Some call it "The Great Worm" in a play on Tolkien (compare
elvish, elder days). In the fantasy history of his Middle
Earth books, there were dragons powerful enough to lay waste
to entire regions; two of these (Scatha and Glaurung) were
known as "the Great Worms". This usage expresses the
connotation that the RTM hack was a sort of devastating
watershed event in hackish history; certainly it did more to
make non-hackers nervous about the Internet than anything
before or since.