Latest Worm Infestation Puts Security Firms on Alert

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-03-01 Print this article Print

The rapid spreading of this weekend's mass-mailing worms has caused security companies to raise their alert levels.

The rapid spreading of several variations on recent mass-mailing worms that were released to the Internet over the weekend has caused security companies to raise their alert status levels. Read "Virus Outbreak: More E-Mail Worms Are Set Loose." Five variations of the Bagle worm (also known as Beagle) are among them. Bagle.C arrived Friday night, with D, E, F and G showing up later. Most of the functionality of the worms is similar to each other and to Bagle.A and Bagle.B, with some minor and one major advance.

Because of the quickness of spreading and severity of the attacks, Panda Software has raised their alert status to red. Symantec has categorized Netsky.D and Bagle.E as "Category 3—Moderate." Netsky.B, discovered on Feb. 18, is still categorized as "Category 4—Severe."

According to security intelligence firm iDefense, 50 percent of the time that Bagle.F and Bagle.G spread themselves, either through a mass-mailing or by copying themselves to network and peer-to-peer sharing directories, they will send a password-protected ZIP file and include the password in the body of the message. This prevents gateway anti-virus scanners from opening the ZIP file and scanning it. An on-access file scanner on a users desktop would still detect the attack if it were up to date and the anti-virus vendor had protection for that specific worm.

The Bagle variants also open a back door on TCP port 2745 where it listens for commands. Reports from Internet intrusion detection systems, such as DShield.Org, indicate a sharp recent increase in port 2745 attacks.

The new Bagle variants also include friendly icons to trick the user into launching them, generally through network shares. Bagle.C will use either an Excel or Windows Calculator icon. Bagle.D will use an Excel icon. Bagle.E will use a Text file icon, and Bagle.F and Bagle.G will use a folder icon. Bagle.C and D have a cutoff date of March 14, 2004, while E, F and G have cutoff dates of March 25, 2004.

Netsky.D also scans a variety of fields on the system for e-mail addresses. Unlike its predecessors, Netsky.B in particular, it creates multiple threads for sending e-mails, and therefore has the potential to spread much more quickly.

The infected attachment can have any of a variety of names, ending in .pif. The attachment is 17,424 bytes large.

Like many other recent worms, Netsky.D attempts to remove infections from other recent worms, specifically Mydoom.A and Mimail.T, perhaps to clear the way for it to work better. According to Panda Software, when the system date is March 2, 2004, between 6:00 a.m. and 8:59 a.m. the worm will produce random noises.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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