The Channel logo


By | John Leyden 25th September 2007 13:10

Symantec accidentally warns of internet meltdown

Dr Strangelove, I presume

Symantec inadvertently warned enterprise customers of a full-scale internet meltdown on Friday.

An erroneous alert from Symantec's DeepSight falsely warned that a devastating attack was underway. The message, which went out at 8:40pm Eastern time, contained a subject line that stated: "DeepSight Increased ThreatCon from 1 to 4 Alert."

The ThreatCon scale - whose moniker mimics the defense readiness condition (DEFCON) system used by the military - runs from one (all calm on the Western Front) to four (meltdown).

The mark is decided by Symantec based on the patterns of attacks it monitors. Symantec has never issued a genuine ThreatCon 4 alert and has only rarely ramped up the scale to ThreatCon 3. The last time Symantec issued a ThreatCon 3 alert was in May 2004, during the height of the Sasser worm epidemic.

Symantec recalled the long range bombers moved back down to ThreatCon 1 and hour after issuing its Chicken Little-style alert on Friday. The security giant blamed the erroneous alert on "product testing", Computerworld reports.

Symantec's European centre of operations, one of four tracking stations it runs across the world, is housed in a former nuclear shelter in rural Hampshire. Perhaps all that time underground monitoring threats affected one of Symantec's security watchers.

Perhaps some stir-crazy watcher, worried about hackers polluting our precious internet traffic, had a Brigadier General Jack D Ripper-style moment and ratcheted up the threat scale. ®

comment icon Read 36 comments on this article alert Send corrections


Frank Jennings

What do you do? Use manual typwriters or live in a Scottish croft? Our man advises
A rusty petrol pump at an abandoned gas station. Pic by Silvia B. Jakiello via shutterstock

Trevor Pott

Among other things, Active Directory needs an overhaul
Baby looks taken aback/shocked/affronted. Photo by Shutterstock

Kat Hall

Plans for 2 million FTTP connections in next four years 'not enough'
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella


League of gentlemen poster - Tubbs and Edward at the local shop. Copyright BBC
One reselling man tells his tale of woe