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Hospital equipment infected by Conficker worm

Marcus Sachs, the director of the SANS Internet Storm Center, said that the Conficker worm infected several hundred machines and critical medical equipment in an undisclosed number of hospitals. Sachs was speaking at the RSA security conference in San Francisco.

I blogged earlier about the Conficker infections at the three hospitals of the University of Utah.

The Conficker worm spreads through networks and through removable storage devices. The machines that were infected, and which control things like heart monitors and MRI machines, are older machines that run Windows NT and Windows 2000 and are too old to be patched with the Microsoft patch made available in October of 2008, according to Sachs. A local area network (LAN) with these unpatchable machines was not SUPPOSED to have access to the Internet, but the LAN was connected to another network with direct Internet access, which allowed infection.

The Conficker infection shows the dangers of connecting critical infrastructure to the Internet, a practice that has become increasingly common to facilitate remote access to control networks.

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