Sophos has questioned rumours circulating on the internet that
the W32/Blaster-A worm may
have been responsible for yesterday's power blackouts in North
The power cuts, which struck across North Eastern America and
areas of Canada, affected an estimated 50 million people in New
York, Detroit, Toronto and Ottawa as well as other cities.
According to reports, thousands of people were trapped in subways
and elevators as officials battled to bring power back online.
Amidst confusion about the cause of the power outage, rumours
spread that the fast-spreading Blaster internet worm may have been
responsible. However, Sophos believes this is unlikely.
"Critical computers running power stations are unlikely to be
linked to the internet and vulnerable to this kind of attack," said
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos
Nine nuclear reactors in four US states were said to have been
taken offline, and the power outage was described as the largest in
"Of course, the power cut may have affected some users' ability
to ensure their computers are protected against the worm. Many
people will have gone home last night planning to update their home
computers with the patch
from Microsoft and ensure their anti-virus was up-to-date,"
continued Cluley. "It is important that all computer users ensure
their systems are patched as soon as possible."