All is quiet as deadline for Sobig attack passes

The Internet was quiet as the clock ticked past the scheduled start time for a massive, coordinated action by Microsoft Windows machines infected with the Sobig.F virus.

Beginning on Friday, antivirus companies warned of possible danger posed by an unknown program that Sobig machines were programmed to download and run beginning at 7 p.m. GMT.

Using atomic clocks associated with universities and governments around the world to coordinate their actions, the Sobig machines were scheduled to search a list of 20 Sobig.F servers that were individually hacked by the virus author and supplied with instructions to download and run a special file.

Security experts warned about the possibility of denial of service attacks, as thousands of Sobig-infected machines were all pointed to a single Web site.

Virus authors could also instruct the infected machines to download a Trojan horse program, giving the author a back door into the infected system for future use, experts said.

The CERT Coordination Center in the U.S. and Europe as well as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation were informed of the threat and worked to notify the Internet service providers (ISPs) that hosted the machines named by Sobig so that they could be taken off line, according to Mikko Hypponen, director of antivirus research at F-Secure Corp. in Helsinki.

That effort appears to have been successful.

"It's pretty quiet," said Johannes Ullrich, CTO of the SANS Institute Inc.'s Internet Storm Center shortly after the mass action was scheduled to begin.

Ullrich did not notice any change in Internet traffic around the time Sobig was scheduled to download its instructions.

There were conflicting reports Friday about whether all or just some of the Sobig servers were taken offline.

Network Associates Inc. (NAI) said that none of the 20 servers was online, according to Jimmy Kuo, a research fellow at NAI.

Internet Security Systems Inc. reported that one of the 20 was still online at 3:00 p.m., but that no new instructions had been placed on the machine by the virus writer, according to Dan Ingevaldson, engineering manager at ISS.

The last Sobig server stopped responding shortly after 3:00 p.m., he said.

With few or none of the 20 servers accessible, Sobig machines were unable to download any instructions, experts agreed.

In addition, Internet backbone providers may have been asked to drop any traffic destined for those addresses, similar to steps taken to prevent a scheduled denial of service (DoS) attack against the White House that was programmed into the Code Red worm, Kuo said.

Such a move is standard procedure when Internet abuse and crime is tied to a specific machine or machines, according to Ingevaldson.

In any case, once authorities began shutting down the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of machines used by the worm, it is doubtful that the author would have risked uploading new instructions to one of those machines, Kuo said.

"My guess is the author saw how big and fast Sobig propagated and didn't want to go any further," Ingevaldson said.

Regardless of the outcome of the Sobig attack Friday, future worms may well learn from the successes of the worm and incorporate that knowledge into future viruses, he said.

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

IDG News Service
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?