Feeds

Altnet wakes up as worm spreads through KaZaA

Coincidence, cock-up or conspiracy?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The essential guide to IT transformation

A worm is spreading through the KaZaA file sharing network: we hope it's unrelated to today's activation of the controversial Altnet piggy-back P2P network.

The worm, dubbed Benjamin, creates a directory accessible to other users of the KaZaA network and regularly copies itself into this directory under a multitude of different names.

When a network user conducts a search for a file under a name corresponding with one the worm's pseudonyms the unsuspecting user is given the chance to download it from the infected computer, facilitating its spread through the KaZaA network.

In addition to eating up free disk space, Benjamin opens an anonymous Web site from which it displays advertising banners - possibly in an attempt by its creator to scam profits from increases in advertising displays. AV firms have released updates to detect the worm and protection is now largely in place.

News of the worm Benjamin comes as Brilliant Digital Entertainment today announced the first use of its controversial Altnet P2P network, which sits on top of KaZaA.

The move means search results by users on the KaZaA network will return links to "listings of secure, copyrighted content from Altnet's content partners" as well free MP3 and movie files. Paid listings from the TopSearch sponsored link engine will display faster than non-paid listings and will be placed at the top of the returned search results.

In addition, Altnet has a deal with Trymedia to provide videogames protected by Digital Rights Management Technology. Brilliant/KaZaA is testing the commercial waters with the introduction of sponsored links, and plans to extend use of Altnet to perform computing tasks using the spare processing power, storage and bandwidth on consenting users' PCs who 'opt-in'.

Altnet created a privacy backlash last month after it emerged that KaZaA downloads contained 'sleeper' software which let Brilliant Digital Entertainment, a 3D advertising and modelling software start-up, build Altnet.

Brilliant/KaZaA promised to be more upfront about its activities following its public mauling, but there's still a question mark about the security of Altnet, which has attracted vehement criticism from some segments of the security community, most notably Nicholas Weaver of Berkeley University.

We don't think the (modest) spread of Benjamin is anything to do with the firing up of Altnet but we're not sure and we couldn't get any clear answer from the security researchers we asked.

Perhaps it's just a coincidence; after all this is not the first time that a worm has exploited public access P2P file exchange networks. In January this year, popular file-sharing software from Grokster and the Limewire Gnutella Client was found to harbour the DlDer Trojan, a spyware application which poses as a lottery game.

So we incline towards the cock-up - rather than conspiracy - theory. Do you know better? ®

Related Stories

Not Brilliant, KaZaA's crackers
Popular file-share utilities contain Trojans

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.