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14 May 2004

Agobot worm threat forces Singapore schools to close internet link, Sophos reports

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The Singapore government has confirmed that all 360 of its schools were forced to temporarily disconnect from the internet in a bid to contain a version of the Agobot worm.

The worm was found to have infected at least 30 schools on Monday 10 May, according to a statement from the Ministry of Education (MOE). All national schools were disconnected from the internet the following day, with some remaining offline until the end of the week.

"To prevent the worm from spreading to other schools and the MOE headquarters, all national schools were temporarily disconnected from the MOE network on 11 May," the statement explained. It went on to report that all schools would be reconnected to the Ministry's network once anti-virus products had been updated on the school computers.

"Versions of the Agobot worm can disable anti-virus software and firewall protection, so it's essential for all users of computers to ensure their defences are properly in place," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Singapore is one of the most technologically advanced nations in Asia with internet use common at both home, school and the workplace. Any organisation which uses computers need to follow safe computing advice and reduce the risk of virus and hacker attack."

Students were able to continue to use computers in the schools for activities not related to the internet.

Last week in Germany six men were charged in connection with writing and distributing versions of the Agobot worm.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

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