By Joris Evers
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
August 31, 2006
Several security experts are warning of increased cyberattacks targeting
Windows PCs, but Microsoft says all is calm on the attack front.
The SANS Internet Storm Center, Symantec, McAfee and several other
security companies are warning of a new worm that wriggles into Windows
PCs by way of a security flaw for which Microsoft issued a patch with
security bulletin MS06-040 on Aug. 8.
On Thursday, Symantec raised its ThreatCon to Level 2, which means an
outbreak is expected. In an alert to customers, the Cupertino,
Calif.-based company said it is seeing "ongoing and frequent attacks"
that utilize the MS06-040 flaw. There are now six variants of malicious
code that exploit the vulnerability, Symantec said.
"The potential impact of these threats is exaggerated due to reports of
successful compromise of Windows NT systems, for which there is no patch
available," Symantec said in its alert. Windows 2000 and Windows XP are
also at risk, according to Symantec.
Symantec was joined in its alert by the other security watchers. The
SANS Internet Storm Center, which monitors network threats, noted on its
Web site that several people had reported increased malicious activity.
Analysis of the threat, however, found that attacks should be
"relatively easy to catch." Most antivirus software detects the bad
Microsoft, however, has not seen an increase in malicious activity
associated with MS06-040, a security hole in a Windows component related
to file and printer sharing.
"Microsoft has been watching diligently since the release of MS06-040
for any increase in malicious activity...At this time we are not seeing
an increase over the already existing limited attacks attempting to
exploit that vulnerability," a Microsoft representative said in a
Security tools from Microsoft and third parties offer protection against
all current exploits of the flaw, according to Microsoft. Still, those
users who have not yet applied the Aug. 8 update are encouraged to do so
immediately, Microsoft said.
Malicious code that exploits the Windows hole has already led to
significant growth in the number of hijacked PCs, CipherTrust said last
week. The messaging-security company has seen a 23 percent growth in the
total number of so-called zombie PCs it has detected and attributed that
to the spread of Mocbot worm variants that exploit MS06-040.
If a PC is hijacked, SANS Internet Storm Center recommends completely
erasing the hard drive and reinstalling the computer's operating system.
"That sounds drastic...but it gets rid of the worm, gets rid of the
botnet, and plus you have a brand new box," according to the ISC.
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