Feeds

Super-powered 'frankenmalware' strains detected in the wild

Virus-worm crossbreeds will trash systems faster than ever before

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Viruses are accidentally infecting worms on victims’ computers, creating super-powered strains of hybrid software nasties.

The monster malware spreads quicker than before, screws up systems worse than ever, and exposes private data in a way not even envisioned by the original virus writers.

A study by antivirus outfit BitDefender found 40,000 such "Frankenmalware samples" in a study of 10 million infected files in early January, or 0.4 per cent of malware strains sampled. These cybercrime chimeras pose a greater risk to infected users than standard malware, the Romanian antivirus firm warns.

“If you get one of these hybrids on your system, you could be facing financial troubles, computer problems, identity theft, and a wave of spam thrown in as a random bonus,” said Loredana Botezatu, the BitDefender analyst who carried out the study. “The advent of malware sandwiches throws a new twist into the world of malware. They spread more efficiently, and will become increasingly difficult to predict.”

BitDefender doesn't have historical data to go on. Even so it posits that frankenmalware is likely to grow at the same rate as regular computer viruses, or about 17 per cent year on year.

All of the malware hybrids analysed by BitDefender so far have been created accidentally. However, the risk posed by these combos could increase dramatically as crooks latch onto the idea of deliberately splicing malware strains together to see what sticks. This is on top of efforts by blackhat coders to add extra features to others' viruses and unleash the updated builds onto the unsuspecting public.

BitDefender carried out its study after finding a sample of the Rimecud worm that was infected by the Virtob file infector. Rimecud is designed to steal online passwords for e-banking or e-mail accounts, among other functions. Virtob creates a hacker-controlled backdoor on infected systems.

"Imagine these two pieces of malware working together - willingly or not - on the same compromised system,” Botezatu explains. “That PC faces a twofold malware with twice as many command and control servers to query for instructions; moreover, there are two backdoors open, two attack techniques active and various spreading methods put in place. Where one fails, the other succeeds."

More details on the threat can be found in a post on BitDefender's Malware city blog here. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
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
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
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
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.