ISS opens Witty worm patch to all customers

ISS has said that all customers, regardless of their maintenance contracts, will be able to download a patch to protect themselves from the Witty worm - for now

Internet Security Systems (ISS) has lifted the restrictions it had placed on out-of-contract customers who were initially denied the ability to download a security patch in order to protect themselves from the destructive Witty worm, which took advantage of a flaw in ISS' RealSecure and BlackIce products.

The Witty worm started to spread less than two days after a flaw in ISS' RealSecure and BlackIce products was disclosed. ISS was slammed by customers and security experts for only providing security patches to customers that had bought a maintenance agreement with the company.

The Witty worm is unusual in that it is one of the first worms in a number of years to have a physically destructive payload -- it was designed to regularly write small amounts of data at random places on an infected machine's hard drive, which causes loss of data and eventually crashes the computer. Last week, around 12,000 computers were infected by the Witty worm, the majority of which were thought to be companies that had let their maintenance agreements expire

Greg Adams, vice president of product management for ISS, told ZDNet UK that it is not corporate policy to block any ISS customers from installing a security patch: "If somebody called in and they were denied the patch that then that was our mistake. But that is not the general policy," he said.

However, ISS customers without a maintenance agreement should update their products immediately, because according to a statement from the company's press office, the free patch will only be available until 15 May, 2004.