Bugbear virus spreading rapidly

The Bugbear virus is rapidly spreading around the world, according to alerts issued by antivirus companies and computer security experts. The virus first appeared Monday and has since spread rapidly.

The virus is sent as an e-mail attachment with a variety of subject lines including "bad news," "Membership Confirmation," "Market Update Report," and "Your Gift." Code in the virus generates random attachment names and subject lines to avoid easy detection by antivirus software and assigns multiple file extensions to the virus to disguise the fact that it is an executable file, according to Vincent Gullotto, vice president of the McAfee AVERT (Anti-Virus Emergency Response Team) at Network Associates Inc.

Once activated, the virus shuts down vital processes used by antivirus and firewall software, records user keystrokes to capture passwords, sends copies of itself as e-mail attachments, and copies itself on to directories shared by networks that are accessible to the computers it infects.

The virus appears to be able to randomly forward copies of itself as attachments to old e-mail messages on the computers it infects to randomly selected third parties, according to a statement released by F-Secure Corp. of Helsinki. In addition to propagating the virus, this feature discloses otherwise personal e-mail correspondence to third parties.

As it attempts to access shared directories on computer networks, the virus may also send copies of itself to shared network printers, which will begin printing the binary code of the virus executable, according to F-Secure.

Finally, Bugbear opens a backdoor to the machines that it infects. Using a Web browser, the virus author or malicious hackers can access a Web interface created by the virus, browse local files on an infected machine and execute programs on that machine, according to F-Secure.

While initial reports indicated that Bugbear's code might have contained flaws that prevented it from being able to mail itself out to new recipients, the rapid spread of the virus over the past two days seems to be proof that the virus is more than capable of reproducing itself.

Symantec Corp. announced Wednesday that it was upgrading Bugbear to a level four virus on a scale of one to five, with five being the most serious. Symantec pointed to a rapid increase in reports of the virus from customers, from 157 submissions on Tuesday to more than 2,000 by Wednesday morning.

In its statement, F-Secure indicated that incidents of the Bugbear infection had surpassed incidents of infection by the Klez virus, which had been the most widely circulated virus of 2002.

Reports of new infections are higher in Europe and Asia than in the U.S., according to Chris Wraight, technology consultant at antivirus software maker Sophos PLC. Bugbear is a far less formidable threat than predecessors like Klez, Wraight said.

"We're still looking at infections in the thousands. At this point with (the Klez virus) we were talking about millions of infections," Wraight said.

Leading antivirus software vendors have posted updated virus definitions covering the Bugbear worm. Antivirus software vendors are encouraging customers whose computers have not yet been infected to update their antivirus software.

Customers whose computers have been infected need to remove all files related to the virus from their machines and are encouraged to update any passwords that might have been exposed to the virus, according to F-Secure.

Another menace on the loose this week is a worm dubbed Opaserv, which exploits the Windows file-sharing protocol SMB for copying information over to another machine. Opaserv opens a backdoor to connect to a Web site, www.opasoft.com, so the attacker can send files to it. "We don't know much about this because the machine was taken down," Tony Magallanez, engineer at security firm F-Secure says.

- Additional reporting by Ellen Messmer.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Roberts

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?