Where the worm meets the road 

It’s not something you’ll see on those medical reality shows, but a wood-shingled gas station at Garrison Junction was the scene of a harrowing transplant a couple of weeks ago.

When a massive outbreak of the notorious Nachi computer worm laid siege to the state on Tuesday, Aug. 19—a clogging so severe that the state computer system was out of commission for over 24 hours—Missoula Internet provider Internet Connect Services (ICS) felt the little slimer’s wrath.

By Wednesday morning, enough of ICS’ 12,000 customers were spreading the bug to throw the system into virtual gridlock, prompting the ICS technical team into an unusual, ambulatory response.

The company’s main Internet router, located in Helena, had been brought to its knees by Nachi. A backup router, here in Missoula, contained the extra capacity that would enable the Helena machine to handle Nachi’s load. So at midday, the ICS team pulled the plug on the whole shebang and the routers were escorted from their respective locations on a course that intersected in Garrison Junction.

Once there, the tech-heads performed a parking-lot swap of vital pieces and functions between the two routers, overcoming a power glitch that was solved by the use of the station’s juice through an extension cord. The machines were then sent speeding back to their homes.

As the Helena router went back online, ICS techies completed firewalling the company’s system, and Internet service was restored by 7 p.m. Wednesday evening. At last report, both patients were recovering nicely, and an ICS systems administrator—who wishes to remain anonymous, for home tranquility purposes—says that over 250 million overtures from Nachi were blocked from the system over a 5-day span last week.

Labeling the Nachi “the most devastating worm we’ve seen,” the administrator noted that all PC-type computers that exhibit signs of Nachi or Blaster infestation (ironically, the Nachi worm is thought to have been unleashed as a well-intentioned protection against Blaster) should be cleansed of the worm via patches provided by Microsoft, and available at www.mymontana.com.

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