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Virtual virus hits Second Life
Published: 2006-11-20

The online world of Second Life suffered a massive attack of self-replicating objects, a class of threats dubbed "grey goo," which slowed down servers over the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon, the company took down the virtual world to clean its database of every instance of the digital viruses. The object manifested themselves in-world as golden rings--a nod to the objects collected by Sonic the Hedgehodge in Sega's popular video games, according to several posts on the Second Life forums.

"We are investigating reports of failed teleports, faulty L$ (Linden dollars, the currency of Second Life) balances, and clothing not appearing," the company said in a statement at 1:24 p.m. PT on Sunday. "The problem seems to be tied to heavy load on the database."

Two hours later, the company appeared to have to have the problem resolved.

The massive attack marked the third time since September that the world created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab got overrun by quickly reproducing digital objects. The term "grey goo" comes from a hypothetical threat of nanotechnology: A self-replicating nanobot could consume the Earth's resources, transforming the world into a giant blob of grey goo. Some biotechnologists have warned about tailored viruses that could have a similar, but limited, effect. The virtual world of World of Warcraft as well has had at least one instance of a digital disease that struck down players' avatars.

Linden Lab typically refers such incidents to the FBI for investigation, a spokesperson said in an interview last month.



Posted by: Robert Lemos
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