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Worm wriggles through year-old flaw, builds zombie-net

'More a business failure than a software security failure'

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A new worm doing the rounds is turning servers running older versions of the JBoss Application Server into botnet drones.

The malware behind the attack is significant both because it targets servers rather than PCs and for its reliance on exploiting a vulnerability that is over a year old – a flaw in JBoss Application Server patched by Red Hat in April 2010 – in order to attack new machines. The worm's payload includes a variety of Perl scripts, one of which builds a backdoor on compromised machines.

Marcus Carey, security researcher & community manager at Rapid7, said that outsourcing practices had exacerbated the patching deficiencies that the worm exploited.

"Many businesses outsource web application development and once the application is deployed, service contracts may lapse or IT staff may not be paying much attention to them," Carey said.

"The use of this new malware associated with JBoss is something we have not seen before. However, the actual vulnerability it is exploiting should have been snuffed out years ago. This is far more a business failure than a software security failure at this point," he added.

The last edition of Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report found that exploits with a patch available for over a year accounted for 3.2 per cent of compromises. By comparison zero-day attacks were responsible for just 0.12 per cent of malicious activity. ®

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