Feeds

Sober storms November virus chart

FBI investigation ruse dupes thousands

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.