Sobig Causes Small Cable Headaches

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The latest in an onslaught of Internet viruses again had cable operators' network-management centers scrambling last week, this time to deal with a new version of a familiar e-mail spamming worm.

The Sobig variant, dubbed W32/SoBig.F, began circulating on Monday. It hijacks users' e-mail accounts, sending copies of itself to addresses in the victim's address books. The result: A deluge of spam e-mail that can cause networks to slow down.

Adelphia Communications Corp. initially appeared to be the hardest hit, reporting slowdowns on its network. While Adelphia's network-operations technicians worked to install filters to protect the network, the greater problem lay in the constant barrage of viruses, according to spokesman Paul Jacobson.

"Of course, the problem they have encountered, along with other corporate and government entities, as well as individual computer users and other service providers, is that these viruses are changing and mutating and a new one seems to be popping up every day," he said. "So we're working as fast as we can to protect our network like so many others are, but it is no doubt causing some slowdowns."

While the slowdown has affected various Adelphia systems, Los Angeles appears to have been hit particularly hard late last week, Jacobson said.

"They are working right now to try to get that situation under control," he said.

Jacobson noted that customer education is a critical defense, so Adelphia has already circulated two e-mail alerts to its PowerLink customers, "and we are probably in the process of getting them another update," he said. "We've also placed links on the major Web pages where our customers might turn for information that steer them to updated information and solutions."

"It's hard to predict when service might be restored to customary levels until we — along with tens of thousands, if not millions of users — are able to get a handle on this," Jacobson added.

But other cable operators appeared to be avoiding many of the network slowdown problems Adelphia experienced. Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable both reported little or no spike in network traffic or complaints to their customer-service centers, while Cox Communications Inc. saw only minimal effects.

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