A website defaced by the Code Red worm

Recently Retro: The Code Red Worm

Picture this, it’s early 2001 and you randomly receive what appears to be a picture of Anna Kournikova from someone you wouldn’t expect to send you a picture of Anna Kournikova…strange, but it’s here now so you might as well take a crafty look.

STOP! It’s a trap, it’s the Anna Kournikova virus.

A drawing of Anna Kournikova.
Anna Kournikova. It’s OK you can click this picture, you won’t get infected.

Too Good to be True

Yes, tennis fan (and male) computer users everywhere were just one click away from contracting a computer virus and suffering the indignity of revealing to there entire address book that they can’t resist temptation.

Not good but at least you knew that you could prevent infection by exercising restraint and knowing that some things really are too good to be true.

If you don’t click it, you won’t get it.


Webmasters all over the world were probably sniggering to themselves at the stupidity of the average email user but come April of 2001 things ‘went south’ for them as well as the Code Red Worm hit the scene.

Code Red affected servers running Microsoft’s IIS web server software and unlike the Anna Kournikova virus it did not require user input to spread itself.

It lived in the RAM of the computers it infected and spread itself by picking IP addresses at random and streaming itself to the unfortunate target.

Chinese Whispers

The virus defaced websites on the infected web server with the text:

Welcome to http://www.worm.com! Hacked By Chinese!

It also checked the date and on certain days launched a mass denial of service attack on the US White House servers by overwhelming them with traffic from it’s legion of infected computers.

Code Red is thought to have caused billions of dollars worth of damage before a patch from Microsoft solved the vulnerability that the worm exploited. It’s creators were never brought to account for their actions.

Unfortunately this was not the case for the the Dutch creator of the Anna Kournikova virus Jan de Wit who actually handed himself in to the police soon after he unleashed the virus.

He got community service.

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