‘Sober’ worm attack likely in January

By : |December 8, 2005 0



SAN FRANCISCO: A new “Sober” worm is set to hit in January in an attack tied to the founding of the Nazi party that could slow the Internet with tens of millions of politically-motivated spam e-mails, security experts said on Wednesday.

The impending outbreak is the latest variant of a worm that that last hit the Internet on Nov. 22 and marked the most prolific computer virus of its kind this year, according to VeriSign Inc.’s security unit iDefense.

The company said the worm is scheduled to hit on January 5, a date it said marked the 87th anniversary of the founding of the Nazi party.

A worm is a type of computer virus that spreads by sending copies of itself over a network, such as the Internet. Most viruses these days are worms, since almost all computers are linked by networks now.

“The attack could have a significant detrimental effect on Internet traffic, as e-mail servers are flooded with politically motivated spam e-mails from potentially tens of millions of e-mail addresses,” iDefense said.

IDefense said it discovered the date for the next Sober attack by reverse engineering and deciphering encrypted code in the most recent variant of the worm.

The company said the variant set to hit in January has already infected millions of systems as a prelude to the attack, scanning computers’ address books to send hundreds of millions of messages claiming to be from various government entities.

Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the nonprofit Sans Institute research group, said a major problem with worms is that they sit silent on a computer and relay spam without the user’s knowledge.

He said the Sober worm would likely send out a new variant of itself and deluge computers with politically-motivated spam as it did in the past.

“It is a credible threat,” Ullrich said. “It is not everyday you can predict when a worm will do something.”

Security experts also said the worm appears to be timed to coincide with a major German political convention the next day to increase the worm’s notoriety and to help spread it.

The bi-lingual Sober worms have likely been authored by a German speaker or a group of German speakers with 30 variants dating back to October 2003, iDefense said. They appear in German and English, the company said.

© Reuters

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