Worms spreading faster and causing more damage

Worms are spreading faster and causing more damage than ever before, with blended threats increasing 20 per cent in the first half of 2003, according to the latest Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec.

By using combinations of malicious code, blended threats are creating greater damage to systems worldwide and have taken an even more sinister turn with the capability to steal confidential data.

The six-monthly threat report, which uses over 20,000 sensors to monitor network activity in more than 180 countries, identifies virus trends, potential threats and the source of attacks.

Symantec Australia managing director John Donovan said the time between a security flaw being identified and a worm exploiting the flaw had dropped from months to weeks.

For example, he said Blaster used a well-known Microsoft flaw that was announced only 26 days before Blaster was released.

"This fact supports our analysis that the time from discovery to outbreak has shortened greatly,” said Donovan. “Of all new attacks observed, 64 per cent targeted vulnerabilities less than one year old."

Data theft is also on the rise via malicious code such as Bugbear and its variant Bugbear.B, discovered in June 2003. Once systems are infected, confidential data such as file names, processes, user names, and keystrokes is extracted, potentially compromising passwords and decryption keys.

Moreover, the creator of Bugbear specifically targeted banks, including Australia's top five, which were all included in the code.

"During the first-half of 2003, Symantec saw a 50 per cent increase in the theft of confidential data using backdoors," said Donovan.

"Companies need to implement controls that make it difficult for attackers such as updated firewalls, patch management policies and intrusion detection."

When a system had been compromised, attackers could install malicious code known as a "bot" that allowed the attacker to use the system for future scanning or as a launching point for other attacks.

The attacker could maintain a running list of the entire botnet by simply issuing commands through an Internet Relay Channel.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sandra Rossi

Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?