Feeds

Three in 10 Windows PCs still vulnerable to Conficker exploit

Worm food

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Three in ten systems remained unpatched against the exploit fueling the spread of the infamous Conficker worm, according to security tools firm Qualys.

Conficker, aka Downadup, which began circulating in late November, exploits the MS08-067 vulnerability patched by Microsoft last October. The worm also spreads over network shares. Security watchers reckons the worm has clocked up more than nine million victims, based on an analysis of how infected machines attempt to contact a changing network of pre-programmed domains.

The worm has been able to build the largest botnet on record largely because sys admins have been slow to cut down the vulnerability responsible for fueling its spread. Based on vulnerability scans of several hundred thousand Windows PCs, Qualys said about 30 per cent of computers are yet to apply a out-of-sequence patch Microsoft released in late October. The patch was a response to Trojan attacks already in circulation against a security bug in Windows Server service.

"The unpatched numbers went down significantly around the 30-day mark," said Wolfgang Kandek, Qualys' chief technology officer, "when less than 50 per cent were unpatched. After that, it went down a little slower. As of yesterday, 30 per cent of the machines are unpatched."

Kandek, whose firm sells vulnerability scanning services, reckoned slow-vulnerability patching cycles in enterprise users are leading to the prolific spread of the worm. The worm is not the work of a malware coding mastermind.

Security researchers at McAfee have discovered that the malicious code makes use of exploit code from Metasploit, the open-source penetration testing tool. "By using the exploit from the Metasploit module as the code base, a virus/worm programmer only needs to implement functions for automatic downloading and spreading," according to Xiao Chen, a McAfee security researcher in a blog posting.

In response to widespread attacks, Microsoft added routines to clean up Conficker infections to the January edition of its Malicious Software Removal Tool. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.