By Sharon Gaudin
March 1, 2007
A worm is getting an awful lot of attention for a piece of malware that
several anti-virus vendors have rated as a 'low' threat.
The Rinbot worm, which also is known as the Delbot worm, hit the
computer network at the Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time
Warner and parent of CNN and CNNMoney.com, according to a company
spokeswoman. A story on the CNN.com Web site said the network was hit on
Thursday. It's not clear how much the worm impacted the network.
The worm, which is trying to build a botnet, also was getting quite a
bit of play because it targets Symantec, a leading anti-virus software
vendor. While the worm does exploit a vulnerability in Symantec client
security, it also goes after Microsoft's Windows Server Service remote
buffer overflow vulnerability and Microsoft's SQL Server user
authentication remote buffer overflow vulnerability.
Paul Moriarty, director of Internet content security at TrendMicro,
notes that all three vulnerabilities have been patched. The worm can
only get a foothold in company networks or individual machines if they
have not been updated.
"There's no evidence of a big attack here," says Graham Cluley, a senior
technology consultant with Sophos. "It does look for vulnerabilities in
other software but the Symantec exploit is particularly notable.
Symantec has put so much effort looking into the security of Microsoft
Vista, while hackers have been going after Symantec."
He also adds that Sophos analysts have not seen the worm, which was
first spotted in the wild early in 2005, picking up a dramatic amount of
speed. "It's not like it's gaining speed or becoming a Melissa or an I
Love You. It's that it's hitting some high-visibility sites."
Rinbot also targets weak passwords, according to Cluley, noting that it
has several hundred common passwords built into its code so it can do
automatic searches for an easy way in to the network. The malware looks
to open backdoors, connecting to remote servers and enabling a hacker to
control the machine remotely.
"Symantec Security Response is aware of the W32.Rinbot.L worm which
spreads to network shares protected by weak passwords," said a Symantec
spokesman in a statement emailed to InformationWeek. "This particular
variant of the W32.Rinbot virus exploited an old vulnerability in
Microsoft software (MS06-040) and Symantec AntiVirus. Symantec's Norton
product line is not affected. In order to close off the vulnerability
itself, a patch was made available to customers in May 2006. Customers
who have followed intelligent patching practices should not be affected
by the new variant."
Is the virus writer targeting Symantec in some type of grudge match as
the CNN story implied? That's still up in the air.
"From time to time virus writers leave messages in their code. Sometimes
these are shout-outs to other virus writers, sometimes it is their own
nickname, and other times they send messages to us," writes Stephen
Doherty, a security response engineer with Symantec, in his blog on
Wednesday. "Here is one that speaks for itself: Dear Symantec: For years
I have longed for just one thing, to make malware with just the right
sting, you detected my creation and got my domains killed, but I will
not stop, I can rebuild." The virus writer then ended his message with a
string of expletives aimed at Symantec and Doherty himself.
Doherty did not say which piece of malware this message was embedded in.
Cluley, though, says these kinds of messages are not all that uncommon.
They were more common when the majority of viruses were written by
script kiddies in their basements, instead of high-tech criminals
looking to make a fortune through cybercrime.
Moriarty agrees. "It's just another worm," he adds. "Most likely it's
someone who wrote malware for Symantec because they're one of the
largest corporate installments of anti-virus. If you're writing, you go
after the big boys."
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