Feeds

Virus names likely a lost cause

KamaSutra, Blackmal, Nyxem, MyWife, huh?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The MITRE Corp has had success in creating identifiers for a different kind of security issue - vulnerabilities. The group's Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure (CVE) list is now used by most major vulnerability databases and software companies to assign identifiers to the thousands of vulnerabilities found every year.

Having a single identifier did help incident responders, said Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs, which interdicts, on average, five samples of new malicious software in email every day.

"In talking with our customers, they said it helped," Shipp said during an interview at the RSA Security Conference last month. "By checking on the list of names (for the CME identifier), you know what you are talking about and what they are talking about."

Still, not everyone used the staid system of monikers. The computer emergency response team (CERT) in India, the country hardest hit by CME-24, renewed warnings about the worm this month, but failed to use the common identifier.

And, getting the media on board will be a lot tougher, MITRE's Beck said.

"CME-24 is very functional but it's not very sexy," she said. "Something like KamaSutra is more sexy and it's going to get more people to read your articles."

The anti-virus industry has brainstormed over ways to create general purpose names that everyone in the industry would use, but no single method has seemed to work, said Vincent Weafer, senior director for Symantec's security response group (Symantec is the owner of SecurityFocus).

"There was an idea that the name could be picked off a list of names, like hurricanes," Weafer said. "But if we called it 'Alice', then it wouldn't be easily understandable to the user. KamaSutra, a name taken from the subject line, is more easily recognisable."

Moreover, anti-virus firms seem less likely to cooperate as a virus gets more media attention. The viruses that become media darlings are frequently the ones that each antivirus vendor attempts to name. Thus, MSBlast also became known as Blaster, Lovesan and Poza, and the Bagle virus was also called Beagle. The top viruses frequently have a host of aliases, said Sunbelt Software's Wells, who also founded a catalog of current viruses known as the WildList.

"If we can't get any agreement for the top 700 viruses on the WildList, we are not going to get agreement on the rest of the thousands we see every year," he said.

So for consumers, at least, virus naming seems likely to remain a source of confusion.

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2006, SecurityFocus

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'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
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!
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.