MyDoom.B Is For Bust

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-02-02 Print this article Print

It looked like a slam-dunk. MyDoom.A spread around the Internet like a cold through day care, and MyDoom.B was supposed to find those systems and upgrade them. Why is MyDoom.B a flop? Happy days in Redmond.

The rapid spread of MyDoom.A was a pretty scary thing to witness. I knew that I had immediately recognized it as a worm when it showed up here, but still its scary when so many people out there get infected. Then MyDoom.B came out and I really got concerned, partly because of its evil practice of locking users out of accessing security sites from which they might disinfect themselves. MyDoom.B seemed like a slam-dunk to spread far and fast. Apart from the usual mass-mailing and KaZaA-based propagation methods, it also searches the Internet for systems with the MyDoom.A backdoor installed (and it uses a really weird method of scanning for those systems, skipping many of them for no apparent reason). When it finds a system running the backdoor, it sends it a copy of MyDoom.B for installation.

In the abstract, this should be the right way to do it, and youd think that with an ecosystem so fertile with MyDoom.A infestations, that B would be all over the place. Such is emphatically not the case. I searched the analyses of the MyDoom.B virus on the Web sites of several security firms. I found little reason for fear; the technical descriptions are all pretty scary, but almost all of those sites with an assessment of how far it has spread classify that spread as "little or none." Heres a handy list for your own inspection: Interesting that even though there was a lot of disagreement on the name of the A variant (MyDoom.A, Novarg.A, MiMail.R, etc.) they all call the B variant MyDoom.B.

The only company that rates it anything above nothing is F-Secure, a company thats done a bit of scaremongering in the past. But "LEVEL 2" indicates less than it may seem, since the next lowest level of severity, LEVEL 3, describes a virus not necessarily in the wild. In other words, their levels and descriptions are not sufficiently granular.

Next page: So what will happen on Feb. 3?

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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