Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Mytob's Hackers May Spawn Unstoppable 'Super Worm'

Filed under
Security

There's mounting evidence that a group of industrious hackers is working on an especially destructive "super worm" that could spread from PC to PC indefinitely, or until it ran out of targets to infect.

The most recent clues are found in the slew of Mytob worms released this week that signal a systematic development process that may indicate," a security researcher said Friday.

Six variations of the Mytob worm have been spotted since Wednesday, June 1, by anti-virus vendors such as Symantec, bringing the total count since its debut four months before to more than 100. But prolific as it is, Mytob's reproductive habits aren't what draws attention from some experts.

"The variants are numbered, just as if it was a regular commercial program," said Carole Theriault, a security consultant at U.K-based Sophos. "One will be number version 1.0, the next 2.0. They're trying out things, different things in each," she said.

"They're following a carefully planned strategy to allow the worm to develop. By issuing multiple threats, all of which are tweaked slightly differently, they may be searching for the best code that will help them create a super worm."

A so-called super worm has been the bugbear of anti-virus researchers, and supposedly the Grail for hackers. The term is usually used to describe a worm that could spread indefinitely, or until it ran out of targets to infect.

The makers of Mytob, which includes code borrowed from earlier malware MyDoom and Rbot, appear to be a group calling itself "Hellbot," said Theriault. The group effort makes it possible, she went on, to crank out variant after variant, essentially flooding the Internet with copies and trying out techniques ad nauseam.

All Mytobs share characteristics such as hijacking addresses from compromised PCs to spread using its own SMTP engine, dropping in a backdoor Trojan so more malicious code can be added to the infected system, and try to shut down security software already on the computer.

The Hellbot group's been busy, Theriault added. As of Thursday, almost 50 percent of all malicious code Sophos was blocking consisted of Mytob variants. U.K.-based filtering firm MessageLabs reported similar percentages. According to Maksym Schipka, an anti-virus researcher with MessageLabs, Mytob represented at least 35 percent of all malware this week. In one 24-hour span, said Schipka, MessageLabs intercepted over 1.1 million copies of the worm.

Also active this week was the Bagle family of worms and Trojan downloaders, but researchers said that the spike in both groups, Mytob and Bagle, was probably just a coincidence.

"It's unusual, and interesting, that they're happening at the same time," said Theriault, "but there doesn't seem to be any connection at the moment."

The glut of Mytobs, however, did set one record. Several security firms pegged Mytob as the most pervasive piece of malware for the month of May, the first time that malicious code created in 2005 pushed older worms and viruses off the top spot. Both Sophos and Kaspersky Labs, a Moscow-based anti-virus software maker, had a Mytob variant in the number one spot on May's chart.

Source.

More in Tux Machines

Mir 0.8 Works On Less ABI Breakage, Touchspots, Responsiveness

While Ubuntu 14.10 on the desktop isn't using Mir by default, Mir 0.8.0 is being prepared for release by Canonical and it has a number of interesting changes. Read more

Open source history, present day, and licensing

Looking at open source softwares particularly, this is a fact that is probably useful to you if you are thinking about business models, many people don't care about it anymore. We talk about FOSS, Free and Open Source Software, but if we really are strict there's a difference between free software and open source software. On the left, I have free software which most typically is GPL software. Software where the license insures freedom. It gives freedoms to you as a user, but it also requires that the freedoms are maintained. On the right-hand side, you have open source software which is open for all, but it also allows you to close it. So here we come back to the famous clause of the GPL license, the reciprocity requirement which says, "If I am open, you need to be open." So software that comes under the GPL license carries with it something that other people call a virus. I call it a blessing because I think it's great if all software becomes open. Read more

Mozilla Wants to Save the Open Web, but is it Too Late?

Again, I think this is absolutely correct. But what it fails to recognise is that one of the key ways of making the Web medium "less free and open" is the use of legally-protected DRM. DRM is the very antithesis of openness and of sharing. And yet, sadly, as I reported back in May, Mozilla has decided to back adding DRM to the Web, starting first with video (but it won't end there...) This means Mozilla's Firefox is itself is a vector of attack against openness and sharing, and undermines its own lofty goals in the Open Web Fellows programme. Read more

Open source is starting to make a dent in proprietary software fortunes

Open source has promised to unseat proprietary competitors for decades, but the cloud may make the threat real. Read more