Virtual world Second Life was forced to shut up shop for around 15 minutes on Sunday to clean up after a computer worm attack brought servers run by parent company Linden Labs to a virtual standstill.
The worm resulted in spinning gold rings, of a type that appeared in the popular Sonic the Hedgehog games of the late 1980s, appearing all over the virtual world. Attempts by users of the virtual environment to interact with these rings ran scripts that created more of the artifacts. This eventually put an extra load on the Linden Labs servers that proved to be unsustainable.
After user complaints about server response times reached a crescendo, Lindon Labs suspended the service to all but its own clean up operators who rid the virtual environment of its infestation of so-called "grey goo".
The grey goo attack came days after controversy regarding a recent flap over a tool called copybot that could be used to replicate virtual goods without payment. ®