Friday, February 27, 2004

E-mail slowdown blamed on virus

Cincinnati Bell, Time Warner battle MyDoom bug

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Nearly a quarter million subscribers to Greater Cincinnati's two largest Internet service providers might notice some sluggish e-mail behavior over the next day or so, especially if a customer of one is sending a message to a customer of the other.

Because of a renewed attack by the virus MyDoom this week, Cincinnati Bell, which operates Fuse and Zoomtown, shut down incoming e-mail from Time Warner Cable's Road Runner service Wednesday for about four hours to stop the proliferation of the virus and the accompanying spam.

That has created error and delay messages for thousands of users, officials from both companies said Thursday - while stressing that such shutdowns are becoming increasingly common.

"Our engineers and their engineers are actually on a first-name basis over this kind of thing," said Rick Wagner, director of network and systems engineering for Cincinnati Bell, which has nearly 140,000 high-speed and dial-up Internet subscribers combined. "We've done it to them, and they've done it to us - but it is going on a lot more."

This blockage occurred between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday, Wagner said. Still, it has created a slowdown, especially on messages headed to Road Runner customers, who might have to wait up to a day or two to get the message.

"We regularly work with these guys when these issues come up," said Time Warner Cable spokesman Rob Howard, whose company has about 100,000 cable modem subscribers in Southwest Ohio. "Unfortunately, the proliferation of these viruses has made (internet service providers) get stricter and stricter."

Wagner warned that new versions of different viruses emerged Wednesday, meaning other slowdowns and blockages might be possible. He said that the company has blocked some overseas ISPs known for sending spam, or unsolicited e-mail, for months - while some blocks from other companies have lasted a few minutes up to several hours.

He stressed that users should not open attachments in e-mails from unknown or strange senders. And check with the sender if other attachments look strange - before opening them.

"A whole lot of this virus problem would be eliminated if people would just do that," Wagner said.


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