Viruses from the dawn of time

October 24, 2013 - 12:32 PM |
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It was a simpler time of black screens and white text, perhaps green or orange depending on your flavour of monochrome, where ancient viruses roamed the world of 3.5" floppies and MS-DOS.  These were not the viruses of today that do their best to sneak onto your machine and hide their shame from the user as best they could, these were created by people who wanted to show off their skills by letting you know something funny was going on.  Wired talked with Daniel White who has amassed a huge amount of information on malware that covers decades of computer abuse, with a YouTube video for each and every one.  While some may bring back horrible memories of your fights with old viral enemies the ones from the MS-DOS era which were mostly benign and very entertaining may bring a smile to some older geeks faces.  

They did leave out one of my favourites, jump to 2:15 in the video below to see CASCADE.COM in action.

"But while the recent Windows worms may be the most familiar, another subset of White’s archive is even more interesting. The viruses he’s collected from the MS-DOS era are malware from a simpler time–a glimpse into a largely forgotten and surprisingly creative subculture."

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Source: Wired

This new malware goes straight to your RAM, no installation required

March 19, 2012 - 11:58 AM |
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A lovely little electronic beastie was spotted by Kaspersky Labs on Russian ad servers recently which uses a Java exploit (long since patched) to corrupt javaw.exe while it is running on system memory, infecting machines without any installation required whatsoever.  While this sounds quite bad, the fact is that in your memory it can infect running programs but not move out of the memory without triggering an installation process and will not survive a system reboot.  That is why as soon as this malware finds its self on a systems RAM it immediately tries to install the Lurk Trojan, which is when your problems would start and when your anti-virus/anti-malware protection should notice something amiss. 

By its self the new virus poses little direct risk but it represents a new attack vector for drive by infections, which could get into protected space and be able to launch an attack from within the systems memory, a much faster and more intimate way of attacking than coming over the network.  With home systems sporting more that 4GB of RAM, there is a lot more space for this type of virus to work with than there was just a few years ago.  Read on at The Register, if you dare.

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"The researchers aren’t quite sure how unusual it is, describing it as both “unique” and “very rare”, but no matter how scarce this type of malware is it does sound rather nasty as it “… uses its payload to inject an encrypted dll from the web directly into the memory of the javaw.exe process.” That mode of operation means Windows and MacOS are both affected by the exploit, which is hard for many antivirus programs to spot given it runs within a trusted process."

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Source: The Register

Frankenmalware, an antiviral boss fight

January 26, 2012 - 12:47 PM |
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Back in the ancient days of gaming and repeated in Skyrim's Draugr your enemies started out simple, a simple zombie or leever becoming a Infected Death Lord Zombie of Fiery Devastation.  Another way to look at is a supervillain origin story where exposure to something that should have killed them instead grants them powers beyond mere mortals.  There may have also been a dozen decent SciFi novels written about the topic (well, probably more like a gross) ... however you look at it, computer worms are mutating!

It seems that systems infected with a worm are being hit by certain viruses which inadvertently infect the worm, creating malware with twice the command and control servers, twice the backdoors and twice the methods to spread its self.  The Register cites a specific example of the Rimecud worm which steals passwords becoming infected by Virtob which creates a backdoor on a system.  At this moment BitDefender has found that 0.4% of the infected systems they detected had an infected worm present, a number you can expect to grow. 

Be careful out there!

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"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."

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Source: The Register

Android is number one in China ... at getting an infection

April 15, 2011 - 11:56 AM |
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"Android handsets used in China accounted for 64.1% of global virus/malware attacks in the first quarter of 2011, according to China-based mobile security solutions provider NetQin Mobile.

There were 2.53 million Android handsets infected by viruses or malware around the world during the first quarter, and most were in China due to the popularity of white-box Android handsets in the country, NetQin indicated. US ranked second with 7.6%, followed by Russia with 6.1%, India with 3.4%, Indonesia with 3.2%, Hong Kong with 2.7% and UK with 2.1%. In the first quarter, there were 1,014 new malware items and 101 new viruses, NetQin said.

Of the infected Android handsets globally, 57% were through downloading applications from Android Market, followed by using unbranded handsets with 17%, downloading applications from WAP or www. websites with 14%, using Bluetooth with 7% and using memory cards with 3%, it said.

A breakdown of the attacks by Android version shows that 1.6 and previous versions accounted for 5%, 2.1 34%, 2.2 45% and 2.3 16%."

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Source: DigiTimes