Feeds

Wormability formulae weighs malware risks

Predicting the next big one

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

RSA 2005 Security researchers are developing a method to predict the potential for individual vulnerabilities to become the subject of computer worms. Although Arbor Network's "wormability" formula for predicting worms is far from perfect it allows the firm to give better advice on prioritising security remediation actions and insight into the vulnerabilities likely to be wormed.

Before a worm can be developed, a network vulnerability has to be identified. Arbor's research shows there are potentially dozens of vulnerabilities ready to be used as the propagation vector in internet worms. However, only a handful are developed into worms every year.

Dr Jose Nazario, worm researcher at Arbor Networks, said that by looking at factors such as the potential of an exploit and the state of a vulnerable population it was possible to work out the "wormability" of a software flaw. The possibility of recycling methods seen in previously successful worms is also taken into account. Factors like ease of remediation, the visibility of an exploit and the number of potential targets are also considered. "Most malware authors are going for something that gives them the most 'most bang for their buck'," Nazario added.

This analysis allows Arbor to focus on the dozens of vulnerabilities likely to be turned into worms from the thousands of software flaws discovered every year. Although the wormability model flagged up the danger posed by a hole in Window's Local Security Authority Subsystem Service (LSASS) component that was used in the Sasser worm it missed the Witty worm
, which took advantage of a bug in ISS's firewall software to spread.

Nazario conceded that the model still needs refining not least because it "overstates the problem". "Modelling human behaviour is really hard to do, ultimately game theory is applicable. But if you use analysis to express in concrete terms what factors had contributed to the appearance of a worm you can formalise the process of looking at new threats," he said.

The arrival of a worm is time dependent. Arbor's research shows that risk posed by vulnerability rises rapidly before decaying slowly over as long as a year. Most worms are produced in a "Window of opportunity" of between two weeks to two months after the discovery of a software flaw, Nazario explained.

Nazario outlined Arbor's research on wormability at a presentation at the RSA 2005 conference in San Francisco last week. ®

Related stories

RSA 2005: complete coverageInfected in 20 minutes
Witty attacks your firewall and destroys your data
The strange death of the mass mailing virus
Rise of the Botnets
Companies adapt to a zero day world
Sasser worm creates havoc

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?