Storm Worm Erupts Into Worst Virus Attack In 2 Years

The Storm worm authors are waging a multi-pronged attack and generating the largest virus attack some researchers say they’ve seen in two years.”We are basically in the midst of an incredibly large attack,” said Adam Swidler, a senior manager with security company Postini. “It’s the most sustained attack that we’ve seen. There’s been nine to 10 days straight days of attack at this level.”

Swidler said in an interview with InformationWeek that the attack started a little more than a week ago, and Postini since then has recorded 200 million spam e-mails luring users to malicious Web sites. Before this attack, an average day sees about 1 million virus-laden e-mails, according to Postini. Last Thursday, however, the company tracked 42 million Storm-related messages in that day alone. As of Tuesday afternoon, Postini researchers were predicting they would see that day between 4 million and 6 million virus e-mails — 99% of them associated with the Storm worm.

While the number of spam e-mails has dropped significantly, it’s still far above normal levels, so Swidler isn’t ready to say the attack is over.

The viruses are not embedded in the e-mails or in attachments. The e-mails, many of them otherwise empty, contain a link to a compromised Web site where machines are infected with a generic downloader. This helps pull the computers into the malware authors’ growing botnet, while also leaving them open for further infection at a later date.

“This is designed to add computers to the botnet,” said Swidler. “That’s first and foremost their goal.”

But the Storm worm authors aren’t contenting themselves with this one attack vector.

Worm…

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