Feeds

Sober storms November virus chart

FBI investigation ruse dupes thousands

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A new variant of the prolific Sober worm has come from nowhere to dominate November malware charts. Despite being detected very late in the month, the Sober-Z worm has stormed to the top of the latest monthly chart compiled by anti-virus firm Sophos.

At its peak, Sober-Z accounted for one in every 13 emails sent and 42.9 per cent of all viruses reported to Sophos. The prolific spread of Sober-Z worm pushed NetSky-P, the worm written by convicted German teenage virus writer Sven Jaschan, into second place in Sophos's November malware chart. NetSky-P held the top birth in Sophos's chart from July until October prior to being ousted this month.

Sober-Z worm appears as an email attachment in messages purporting to come from police agencies (such as the FBI and the UK's NHTCU) containing bogus warnings that recipients are under investigation for visiting illegal web sites. These messages are designed to dupe recipients into opening infectious attachments. Sober worms are configured to feature in an attached payload to infectious email messages featuring either English and German subject lines and body text.

Once the attached file is run, the worm scans the user's hard drive for email addresses, in its search for fresh targets for infestation. It also attempts to disable security software on infected Windows PCs, leaving users more exposed to further hack attacks. The first variants of the worm were seen more than two years ago but Sober-Z is the most virulent strain to date.

"Since we saw the first Sober worm back in October 2003, its author has tried to improve upon tried-and-tested tricks to dupe computer users into launching infected attachments," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "This latest worm purports to be a warning from CIA and FBI agents, accusing recipients of visiting illegal websites. Mocking the feds is a sure-fire way of goading the authorities, and you can't help but wonder whether the author is desperate to be caught."

Aside from Sober-Z, November's chart is dominated by the Mytob, NetSky and Zafi virus families - showing that cyber criminals are increasingly bringing out new variants of established threats in order to maximise their impact.

Sophos's research shows that 2.7 per cent, or one in 38 emails, is viral. Sophos now identifies and protects against a total of 114,082 viruses, an increase of 1,940 on last month. ®

November top ten virus chart, as compiled by Sophos:

  1. Sober-Z
  2. NetSky-P
  3. Mytob-GH
  4. Mytob-EX
  5. Zafi-D
  6. Mytob-BE
  7. Zafi-B
  8. Mytob-AS
  9. NetSky-D
  10. Mytob-C

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.