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The GAO found that: (1) the Internet virus infected up to 6,000 computers within hours after it appeared, clogging systems and disrupting most of the nation's major research centers; (2) university computer experts eradicated the virus at most sites within 2 days; (3) the virus caused lost computer processing and staff time, but no permanent damage; (4) a few changes to the virus program could have resulted in widespread damage and compromise of sensitive or private information; (5) the incident highlighted such vulnerabilities as the lack of an Internet focal point for addressing security issues, security weaknesses at some sites, and problems in developing, distributing, and installing software fixes; and (6) agencies and groups have taken such actions as creating computer emergency response centers and issuing ethics statements.
The GAO also found that factors hindering prosecution of computer-virus-type incidents included the lack of federal statutes specifically directed at computer-virus-type incidents and the technical nature of computer-virus-type cases.