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7amNews.com's concise coverage of the Terrorist attacks and the USA's inevitable response continues. The Taliban are threatening a holy war against the USA. Get the latest reports.

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A New Tripple-Threat Worm Strikes The Net 19 September 2001 Edition
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Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the Net, in the wake of the Love Bug, SirCam, Code Red, Code Red II, etc, reports are surfacing of a decidedly evil new worm that will try and wreck your day using a number of exploits.

Although information is pretty sketchy at the moment, this new worm, known so far as "Nimda" or "readme.exe" appears to take advantage of a number of flaws in Microsoft Windows-based software.

It is spreading like wildfire through a number of mechanisms.

As with many of its predecessors, the worm is being delivered as an email attachment -- but with the twist that, according to some reports, it can execute automatically on PCs using MS Outlook, rather than requiring the user to open that attachment.

It is very network-aware and once a single machine on a LAN or WAN becomes infected, it tries to exploit any open shares to spread throughout that network.

And, it also infects any unpatched IIS webservers it can find using direct probes across the Net in a manner similar to the now infamous Code Red.

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But wait -- there's more!

If it manages to compromise an IIS webserver, the default.asp page is altered so that it automatically tries to serve a file called readme.eml containing a bogus MIME header that sees it pretending to be an innocuous .wav file -- but which actually spawns a new Javascript window and does goodness knows what.

But wait -- there's even more!

As a result of all the port 80 probes being generated by IIS servers infected by this worm, the Net is once again being flooded with masses of bogus HTTP requests that are starting to waste enormous amounts of bandwidth.

One estimate suggests that there are over a million IIS servers on the Net still vulnerable to this kind of exploit.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
From Yesterday...
  • I'd rather they blew something up offshore!... - Adam
  • FBI - You don't WANT feedback... - Rob
  • NZ as a Data Haven?... - Martnz
  • relations... - Dominic
  • NZ... - Sam
  • Have Your Say

    There has been some speculation that this little demon is somehow related to the terrorist bombings in the USA (what isn't these days) -- mainly because it first appeared exactly a week (to the hour) after the first airliner hit the World Trade Center.

    The FBI are investigating possible links.

    So, what are you going to do to avoid getting hosed by this worm?

    All the usual recommendations apply -- get the latest bug/security patches from Microsoft (aren't you getting tired of that now?), update your anti-virus software and remain vigilant.

    However, at least one user claims that their IIS server was hit even though it had all the latest security patches installed and other supposedly "hard" systems have also reported to have been compromised.

    If you're running Internet Explorer you might also want to use the Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced menu selections and uncheck the "Play sounds in web pages" option so that if you hit a compromised website you're less likely to have the "readme.eml" file explode in your face.

    Although I can't confirm it, Netscape and Opera users should be safe since the .eml file is an outlook-specific type. Perhaps some smart Aardvark reader can comment?

    One way reducing the risk of being hit by an infected webpage will be to disable Javascript, since the file is delivered by this piece of code:

    <script language="JavaScript">window.open("readme.eml", null, "resizable=no,top=6000,left=6000 ") </script>

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could just all get along together without feeling the need to ruin other people's days?

    Here are some links for more information on this worm:

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    Security Alerts
    Microsoft tightens software security (CNet - 16/08/2001t)

    Code Red Worm A 'Runaway Success' (7amNews - 20/07/2001)

    Solaris bug gives hackers free rein (ZDNet - 22/06/2001)

    Microsoft Admits Another 'Serious Vunerability' In IIS 7amNews - 19/06/2001)

    Virus Alerts
    New worm spreading slowly (CNet - 4/09/2001)

    Trojan horse breaks Windows PCs (ZDNet - 24/08/2001)

    'Sircam' Worm Getting Hotter (Wired - 20/07/2001)

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    Open in New Window = open in new window
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    Open in New Window eBay reaffirms 3Q
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