WASHINGTON - In the wee hours of July 6, computer experts in Reston, Va., hired by the financial services industry to constantly monitor the Internet spotted a security threat.

With the click of a few buttons these cyber-sentinels alerted more than 300 chief information security officers and network administrators at the nation's largest banks, securities firms, and insurance companies by fax, pager, or e-mail. Some of the recipients instantly read the warning on their cell phone screens:

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