Slammer Worm: A Blow to Remote Storage?

David Morgenstern looks at the SQL Slammer worm and sees a threat to the storage industry. Will the latest Internet disruption snap consumer patience with remote-storage schemes?

Stories of the SQL Slammer worm have disappeared from the front pages of news sites, just a couple of days after its attack. "Out of sight, out of mind," some may conclude with a sigh of relief. Still, folks in the remote-storage business should be concerned about market fallout from the Slammer worm.

As ably described by eWEEK, the weekend attack brought parts of the Internet to virtual gridlock as the worm generated billions of bogus packets. A wide sweep of Internet services was disturbed for millions of users. (Or could it have been billions? After all, SQL Slammer stopped Internet connections and telecommunications for an entire country.) Several large ISPs were unreachable, and almost half the Internets root DNS servers were either completely disabled, or their latency was so severe that they were effectively down.

For analysts, the pattern of the attack, its containment and the quick rate of recovery all point to the resiliency of the Internet. From a technologists viewpoint, the news was good: Despite the increase in load and stoppages here and there, the Internet bent but didnt break.

For consumers, however, this attack added yet more stress to their wavering confidence in Internet-distributed content (that is, content other than the "shared" music files that drive the RIAA wild). After all, SQL Slammer is just the latest attack in a series—albeit one of the worst yet.

We can only hope that consumer attitudes wont follow the three-strike paradigm.

The industrys first strike was the collapse of the Internet bubble. During its heyday, many consumers uploaded personal photos and even digital video files to remote-hosting services.

The Internet made it easy to share the family pictures with relatives and friends, right? After the shakeup, a number of these companies went under, and their customers lost their files. This loss lead consumers to question the long-term viability of storage services.

Strike Two is this weeks SQL Slammer attack, or perhaps some future worm incident. The increasing severity of worm attacks on Internet traffic (now involving telecommunications and banking services) weakens consumer confidence in the Internet itself. Consumers worry that their access to Internet services could be compromised; the perceived threat ranges from vital services such as e-mail to personal items stored in remote servers.

Strike Three? I wont hazard a guess. Storage vendors can only hope that consumer confidence in the Internet will continue to bend but not break.

David Morgenstern is a longtime reporter of the storage industry as well as a veteran of the dotcom boom in the storage-rich fields of professional content creation and digital video.