Feeds

Could blogging spread computer worms?

Definitely maybe

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Could RSS feeds become a conduit for the transmission of computer worms? Security experts are at odds over the possibility. Those who play down the threat point to the fact that no virus has ever used the propagation technique while others say it's only when a network reaches critical mass (as in the case of instant message and file sharing networks) that malware threats show their ugly head.

Personal firewall firm Zone Labs describes RSS feeds (together with mobile phones and PDAs) as the "next battleground in security". Gregor Freund, chief exec and co-founder of the Check Point Software subsidiary, said RSS feeds are a potential threat because whenever you have unstructured or unfiltered data you can end up with viruses. He added that Zone Labs had spotted malicious behaviour over RSS feeds but wasn't able to supply any details on what this malfeasance might be.

Trivial exploits would involve pointing readers of RSS feeds towards maliciously constructed websites. Peter Craig, UK product marketing manager at Trend Micro, explained: "RSS feeds point to HTML pages and as such, they can be made to point to HTML-exploits or malicious JavaScript. It certainly can be a possible way of distributing malicious code over the internet to the subscribers of the RSS feed. The impact of this distribution method would be related to the popularity of the feed. As far as I know it has never been used in any live virus so far."

More complex attacks are also at least theoretically possible. Dave Rand, chief technologist for Internet content security at Trend Micro, said that worms might be created that exploited vulnerabilities in RSS readers to spread.

But Craig played down the likelihood of an attack based on this approach, at least in the short term. "RSS feeds can't ever be a solid propagation method until there are enough RSS feeds with lots of subscribers in normal end-user machines or there's a way to access server-based feeds more easily," he said. ®

Related stories

Beware of toxic blogs
Porno blog spam turns nasty
ATMs in peril from computer worms?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.