Feeds

Prolific worm infects 3.5m Windows PCs

Conficker wriggles far and wide

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A prolific new worm has spread to infect more than 3.5m Windows PCs, according to net security firm F-secure. The success of the Conficker (AKA Downadup) worm is explained by its use of multiple attack vectors and new social engineering ruses, designed to hoodwink the unwary into getting infected.

The worm uses a complex algorithm to develop a changing daily list of domains which infected machines attempt to establish contact with. Hackers need only register one of these possible names to establish contact with the botnet established by Conficker. The tactic is designed to frustrate attempts by security watchers to dismantle the command and control network associated with compromised machines.

But the approach also made it possible for F-secure to register a domain infected machines were due to contact and monitor what happened. Analysis by the firm, based on data from this experiment, suggests that 3.5m machines or more are under the control of unidentified hackers.

AutoPlay trickery

By comparison, the Storm worm was made up of somewhere between 500,000 and 1m zombie drones at its September 2007 peak, according to one recent estimate.

Conficker began circulating in late November. As well as exploiting the MS08-067 vulnerability patched by Microsoft last October, brute forces administrator passwords in an attempt to spread across machines on the same local area network. The malware also infects removable devices and network shares using a special autorun.inf file.

Analysis of the code by security watchers at the Internet Storm Centre has revealed its use of clever social engineering ruses that means users plugging an infected drive into a Windows machine might be fooled into thinking they are only opening a folder when they are actually clicking to run the worm's viral payload.

Security experts suggest that users may want to disable Autorun, or even prohibit the use of USB devices, as a precaution. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
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?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
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!
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, watchdog claims
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
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.