Feeds

Virus writers boost output in 2003

Mid-term report

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Virus writing over the first six months of this year has increased sharply.

Anti-virus firm Sophos has detected 3,855 new viruses in the first six months of 2003, up 17.5 per cent on the same period last year.

Since January 2003, the single most prevalent virus was the Bugbear-B worm, accounting for almost 12 per cent of reports to Sophos. The worm tops the chart even though it was first seen just a few weeks ago, in early June. Its older sibling, Bugbear-A, generated a further 2.5 per cent of enquiries.

For the first six months of 2003, the top ten viruses (as recorded in customer enquiries to Sophos's technical support department) are as follows:

  1. Bugbear-B
  2. Sobig-C
  3. Klez-H
  4. Sobig-B
  5. Sobig-A
  6. Avril-B
  7. Bugbear-A
  8. Avril-A
  9. Fizzer-A
  10. Yaha-E

Sophos reckons that the rise in virus writing activity shows that the UK's tough stance against convicted virus writers, like Simon Vallor who was jailed for two years this January, has failed to have much of a effect on the VX community as a whole.

Meanwhile virus writers are no longer relying on just email to propagate their malicious code. A combination of email, IRC (internet relay chat), network shares and/or P2P file sharing spreading methods is increasingly been applied to malicious code creation.

Some viruses used topical news stories and current events in an attempt to spread, Sophos notes. For instance, the Coronex worm disguised itself as information about the SARS biological virus, and the Ganda worm posed as secret spy photographs of the war in Iraq.

Neither of these worms caused widespread infections - unlike the SQL Slammer worm, which slowed down sections of the Net (particularly in South Korea) and rendered a small percentage of ATMs in the US inoperable immediately following its release in January.

But the short-lived Sobig worms, like Sobig-B which posed as a support email from Microsoft and its four sinister sibblings, have between them generated more support calls to Sophos than anything else.

Individually, Bugbear-B has generated more enquiries to Sophos than any other virus in the last six months.

"By morphing its contents every time it forwards itself - and by spoofing the email address of the person who sent the virus - Bugbear-B has been the most prevalent and irritating virus so far this year," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos Anti-Virus.

But why have the number of viruses written increased?

Cluley isn't exactly sure but he reckons that increased media attention, wider access to computers and the relatively low likelihood of being caught for virus writing offences are behind the upswing in virus writing activity this year.

"Virus writing - delinquent though it is - is become a more mainstream hobby," Cluley (half jokingly) told us. ®

Related Stories

Bugbear sequel spells fresh misery for Windows users
Yahoo! variant! of! Microsoft! support! worm! spreading! rapidly!
Why did support @ Microsoft send me a virus this morning?
Why spammers lurve the 'Microsoft support' worm
Fizzer blasts Klez-H off top spot in viral charts
Fizzer stealth worm spreads via KaZaA
SQL worm slams the Net
ATMs, ISPs hit by Slammer worm spread
Canadian Uni to run virus writing course
Welsh virus writer Vallor jailed for two years

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.