Definition of the Day: Warhol Worm

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American pop artist Andy Warhol famously said, ‘In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.’ He never knew that his words would be used to name a class of computer worms that could shut down the entire internet.

Self replicating worms are a major security problem because they are capable of spreading themselves automatically without human interaction.

The Warhol worm is a class of worms that replicate very rapidly. So rapidly that one could infect a huge # of computers on the web in as little as fifteen minutes: quickly enough so that the damage could be done before humans could intervene and stop it. Theoretically, scientists believe it would be possible for a worm like this to infect EVERY computer connected to the web within 15 minutes.

If combined with a destructive virus, a Warhol worm could crippled the web, disrupting banking, financial markets and defense systems worldwide.