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11/20/2006
12:20 PM
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Worm Knocks 'Second Life' Offline

The worm planted spinning gold rings that replicated whenever a player interacted with them; the sheer numbers of rings put an unusually heavy burden on the company's servers.

The popular "Second Life" virtual world and game shut down for a brief time Sunday so administrators could clean up a worm attack dubbed "gray goo."

"An attack of self-replicators is causing heavy load on the database, which is in turn slowing down in-world activity," the official Linden Lab blog read at 2:44 p.m. (PST) Sunday. "We have isolated the grey goo and are currently cleaning up the grid."

Twenty-three minutes later, Linden shut down the site. "Log-ins will be closed to all except Linden staff while we finish cleaning up the aftermath of the grey goo attack." The site was unavailable for less than 15 minutes.

The worm planted spinning gold rings that replicated whenever a player interacted with them; the sheer numbers of rings put an unusually heavy burden on the San Francisco, Calif. company's servers. "Gray goo" is the term Linden Lab pegs to self-replicating objects within Second Life. In this case, the goo looked like rings from the "Sonic the Hedgehog" video game, complete with accompanying sound when they were touched.

Second Life has been under fire of late for other replicating problems. Last week, scores of virtual shop owners closed their stores and threatened to file a class-action suit against Linden Lab, claiming that the company was responsible for releasing a tool that let players copy any in-game ware.

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