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MyTob and NetSky-P dominate August viral charts

Zotob shut out of league of shame

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Despite all the publicity about the Zotob the NetSky-P virus continued to dominate anti-virus charts in August. Zotob exploited a recently discovered Microsoft Plug and Play vulnerability to infect several media organisations last month. A number of other worms (such as Bozori and IRCBot) exploited the same vulnerability but their aggregated prevalence never really got over one per cent of the global virus activity, according to security appliance firm Fortinet. That's since the exploit mainly affected unpatched Windows 2000 machines and because the port used by Zotob to spread (port 445) is typically firewalled on the gateway of corporate networks and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Fortinet Threat Response Team Leader Guillaume Lovet commented: "Zotob spread all over the news faster than over the Internet itself, and two facts helped hype the buzz. First of all, Zotob infected the media networks of CNN, ABC and the New York Times. Seemingly, it could have got in by plugging laptops into these networks, hence bypassing firewalls and infecting unprotected Windows 2000 boxes from the inside."

"Secondly, the exploit-oriented nature of Zotob's propagation, which does not require any user interaction, and the fact it appeared 'in the wild' less than a week after Microsoft released a patch for the PnP vulnerability, reminded us of the Blaster (Aug 2003) and Sasser (Apr 2004) threats, which caused a reasonable amount of havoc in their time."

Whereas Blaster criticised Microsoft, the Zotob worm seeded a botnet of compromised machines, a factor that illustrates the changing motives of virus writers. Two suspected authors of Zotob and MyTob worms were arrested last week by Moroccan and Turkish authorities.

NetSky-P, the worm written by the convicted German teenager, Sven Jaschan, accounted for 13 per cent of malware threats intercepted by Fortinet. A variant of the MyTob worm was the highest new entry with three per cent or reports.

MyTob slobbers over corporate nets

Over at UK-based security firm Sophos it's a similar story with NetSky-P once again toping its league of shame as the single biggest individual menance accounting for 14.7 per cent of viral reports. However variants of the MyTob worm collectively pose an even greater problem and accounted for 54 per cent of all viruses reported to Sophos in August.

"MyTob and Zotob may spread in different ways, but the source code is very similar," said Carole Theriault, security consultant at Sophos. "Moreover, the Zotob author's nickname, Diabl0, appears in more than twenty of the MyTob variants, suggesting that they may have been created by the same person. One thing is for sure - MyTob is still causing chaos in organisations that haven't updated their virus protection and patched software vulnerabilities."

Spam and fraudulent scam emails posed a continuing problem to users throughout August. Phishing attempts reached three per cent of total fraudulent and virus-related activity - an unprecedented score, according to Fortinet. Many of these attacks targeted eBay. Spam now accounts for 79 percent of all emails in August up from 70 per cent in January, according to email security firm BlackSpider Technologies. Virus-laden emails dropped from 2.64 percent in July to 2.01 per cent in August, it reports.

Top 10 threats caught by Fortinet's FortiGate security appliances in August

  1. Netsky-P
  2. MyTob-EK
  3. Zafi-B
  4. Zafi-D
  5. eBay phish
  6. MyTob.fam
  7. Possible_MyTob-G
  8. Possible_Netsky-P
  9. Mitglieder Trojan
  10. Adware/180Solutions

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