No Solution at Hand for the Malware Naming Mess

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2005-09-29 Print this article Print

Opinion: I'm rooting for the Common Malware Enumeration initiative to succeed, but I'm thinking it's just going to be another name in an already crowded field.

In the heat of a malware outbreak there is usually a lot of confusion about what variant of what worm is involved? Is it just a new variant or a completely new worm? Inconsistencies between vendors about variant indices and virus names add to the confusion. The latest effort to address this problem is the CME (Common Malware Enumeration) Initiative from a company called MITRE but sponsored by US-Cert. These are the same people who brought us CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures), the project on which CME is based.
The idea is to assign a specific identifier to each malware implementation.

To illustrate the problem, consider the table below containing data from AV-Test, a research project at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg (Germany).

    Anti-Virus ProductID For This Virus
    Dr WebWin32.HLLM.Beagle.35146
    eSafTrojan/Worm (suspicious)
    F-Secure Email-Worm.Win32.Bagle.ds
    McAfeeNew Poly (virus or variant)
    Nod32Win32/Bagle.CT worm
    Trend MicroTROJ_BAGLE.DA

Next Page: What CME is up against.

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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