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News Briefs

New Computer Virus Hits Networks


A new malicious computer program continued to spread rapidly throughout the Internet on Tuesday, swamping e-mail message in-boxes and crashing corporate computer servers in what some computer security experts are predicting may become one of the largest outbreaks of a computer virus.

The virus-like program, called a worm and known as Mydoom, Norvag and other names, is proliferating through e-mail attachments and file-sharing services.

“It’s the biggest e-mail outbreak we’ve had,” said Mikko Hypponen, director of anti-virus research at F-Secure, a computer security company based in Helsinki, Finland. On Tuesday afternoon, he estimated, nearly 20 percent of all e-mail traffic in the world was attributable to the proliferation of Mydoom.

Several computer-security experts said there were no apparent clues in the worm’s code to indicate its origins.

While the replication of Mydoom had not slowed general Internet response time, several Internet security analysts said, some servers were collapsing under the deluge of mail, or were being forced offline.

NASA Plans to Fly Shuttles by Fall


Despite uncertainties about how NASA will comply with some requirements for returning the shuttle fleet to space, officials of the agency said Tuesday that they were making enough progress to stick to a tentative launching date of September or October.

Michael Kostelnik, the agency’s deputy associate administrator for the shuttle and space station programs, said engineers for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration were doing extensive work in redesigning shuttle systems and procedures to comply with recommendations of the board that investigated the Columbia accident.

Work is progressing in such areas as redesigning the shuttle fuel tank to prevent it from shedding debris at liftoff and developing techniques to repair shuttle damage in space, but these efforts take time, officials said.

“We’d like to be further along, given a target in September,” Kostelnik said. “But we are still progressing.”

Last week, an advisory panel appointed by NASA said in an interim report that the agency was making uneven progress in complying with 15 recommendations that must be met before shuttles fly again.

China Has Outbreak of Bird Flu


China said late on Tuesday that avian influenza had been found in fowl in three regions, making it the latest Asian country to confirm cases of the dangerous virus, which has killed at least nine people so far.

The official New China News Agency said that lab tests had confirmed that ducks were infected at a farm in the southern autonomous region of Guangxi Zhuang, near the border with Vietnam. Preliminary tests also showed bird flu among chickens at a household in the central province of Hubei and among ducks at a household in the central province of Hunan.

All of the Chinese bird cases involve the deadly H5N1 strain of Type A flu virus, which has spread among chickens from Japan to Cambodia, and has infected a dozen people in Thailand and Vietnam, with many more cases suspected. But the New China News Agency said no human cases had been found in China.

Other countries that have reported the virus in chickens are South Korea, Indonesia and Laos. South Korea has confirmed the same virus in chickens, Taiwan and Pakistan have reported milder strains, and Indonesia and Laos have reported bird flu strains that they are still trying to identify.