According to The Financial Times, a number of corporate networks were attacked by as many as a dozen computer worms. The virus attacks appeared to be targeted to companies running Windows network software.
Affected companies included CNN, ABC News, the New York Times and the Financial Times. Computers at DaimlerChrysler, Kraft and UPS also were reported to have been infected by the worms, known by several names including Zotob and Rbot.
“We have grouped them into four main families,” said Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at Finnish security software company F-Secure. “They’re even fighting with each other; some versions are removing earlier versions. It seems like some fighting is going on within rival virus writing gangs.”
By Wednesday night 12 variants of the worm had been identified and Mr Hyppönen said more strains would probably be released over the next few days. However, the threat was expected to recede as companies updated software.
Although damage from the attacks is expected to be less than from the Blaster worm attacks in 2003, they are still predicted to run into the tens of millions of dollars.
The rash of worms was prompted by Microsoft’s publication last week of details of a vulnerability in Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and some versions of Windows XP. Microsoft frequently publishes details of vulnerabilities in its software as soon as “patches” to fix the flaws become available. However, virus writers are increasingly taking advantage of the information before computer network administrators have time to install the defences. The day after the vulnerability was publicised last week an anonymous computer programmer, believed to be based in Russia and using the name “houseofdabus,” published a computer code on the internet that made it easy for virus writers to exploit the flaw. The first virus to use the software was published on Sunday, and on Wednesday at least five more were released.
WE ARE BORG! SURRENDER NOW! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED!