The WANK Worm was a computer worm that attacked DEC VMS computers in 1989 over the DECnet. It was written in DIGITAL Command Language.
The worm is believed to have been created by Melbourne-based hackers, the first to be created by an Australian or Australians. The federal police of Melbourne thought the worm was created by two hackers who used the names Electron and Phoenix.
The worm coincidentally appeared on a DECnet computer network shared between NASA and the US Department of Energy days before the launch of a NASA space shuttle carrying the Galileo spacecraft. At the time, there were protests outside the Kennedy Space Center in Florida by anti-nuclear groups regarding the use of the plutonium-based power modules in Galileo. The protesters contended that if this shuttle blew up "like Challenger did", the plutonium spilled would cause widespread death to residents of Florida.
The worm propagated through the network pseudo-randomly from one system to the other by using an algorithm which converted the victim machine's system time into a candidate target node address (composed of a DECnet Area and Node number) and subsequently attempted to exploit weakly secured accounts such as SYSTEM and DECNET that had password identical to the usernames. The worm did not attack computers within DECnet area 48, which was New Zealand. A comment inside the worm source code at the point of this branch logic indicated that New Zealand was a nuclear free zone. New Zealand had recently forbidden U.S. nuclear-powered vessels from docking at its harbours, thus further fuelling the speculation inside NASA that the worm attack was related to the anti-nuclear protest.
The line "You talk of times of peace for all, and then prepare for war" is drawn from the lyrics of the Midnight Oil song Blossom and Blood; Midnight Oil are an Australian rock band known for their political activism and opposition to both nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The process name of the second version of the worm to be detected was "oilz", an Australian shorthand term for the band.
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