'Code Red' Infects 150,000 Computers

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The viruslike ``Code Red'' worm infected computers around the world Wednesday, although the outbreak wasn't as severe as predicted.

``We're still watchful, but for the first time, we're hopeful as well,'' said Alan Paller, research director at the SANS Institute, a computer security think tank working with the government to monitor the Internet.

He said despite the good news, they had detected new variations of the worm and were working overnight to analyze them and their capabilities.

Almost 150,000 Internet-connected computers running Microsoft's NT or Windows 2000 operating system had been infected by Code Red by late Wednesday night, according to SANS data. Although the rate of infection doubled each hour early on, the rate of increase gradually abated.

``We can't say for certain the threat has been eliminated,'' said Ron Dick, head of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center.

The Pentagon had to shut down public access to many Defense Department Web sites again, a week after it shut down most military sites to protect against Code Red.

A spokesman said the Pentagon system was slowed and one civilian agency's server was infected.