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Softpanorama Malware Protection Bulletin, 2001

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[Aug 09, 2001] Internet Security: a difficult balance between hype and paranoia

August 02 @ 19:15:55 EDT

Security News Portal - A Different Kind of News

Adam Lawson, an analyst with says "The dangers of Code Red, which is costing businesses an estimated $1.2 billion so far, have been considerably overstated. The most intense waste of server capacity and resources seems to have been consumed in the passing of messages warning about a crisis that may never occur. The problem with this kind of media excitement is that when a more serious threat arises, complacency may creep in and the real menace may not be taken seriously...

Complacency is a key issue in why Code Red may have become a problem at all. As soon as a security patch becomes available, it should be implemented, irrespective of the severity of the problem being fixed. If this isn't done, then the company itself may not suffer any immediate problems but may be responsible for passing on problems to other Internet users......continued....

Internet Security: a difficult balance between hype and paranoia

Better safe or sorry? asks Adam Lawson

All Internet users should take the responsibility for minimising the spread of viruses, and if this was done then problems such as the massive DoS attacks early last year would be greatly reduced.

Security is, in fairness, a very difficult subject to tackle properly, and demands dedicated resources to be done effectively.

Not every company has this level of resource, nevertheless there should be at least one individual or department with the specific responsibility of ensuring that security remains current.

Solutions that offer 90 per cent protection today,may only offer 65 per cent tomorrow, and even less the day after that, as they require constant and expert attention.

Convincing management that security is an ongoing situation is tricky, as complacency seems to creep in very easily once a solution, for example a firewall, has been implemented.

Code Red itself, while posing a real problem, was never going to live up to the publicity it was given.

It lacks the payload to be genuinely destructive, rather than just very inconvenient.

If the anticlimax does not cause a false sense of security leading to complacence, the paranoia code-red generated could be useful in preventing the onslaught of a later virus, as long as people don't make the mistake of assuming that because this incident didn't get completely out of control, future problems will be equally easy to deal with.

The author is an analyst with

[Aug 08, 2001] SirCam worm still spreading documents - Tech News -

Reuters reported that a Ukrainian Web site said Thursday it had received secret documents from the administration of President Leonid Kuchma, including an itinerary showing his whereabouts during the country's upcoming independence celebration.


The Sircam computer virus eluded Symantec Corp.'s corporate and consumer Norton Anti-Virus products, because the first software update Symantec created to combat Sircam failed to detect the virus through e-mail scanning at the gateway and desktop.

First noticed as an e-mail-borne virus July 17, Sircam can potentially wipe out files and cause other damage if a victim opens the infected attachment.

Although Symantec's first e-mail scanning defense for Sircam on July 17 didn't flag the virus appropriately, Symantec asserts that users weren't completely defenseless. That's because Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus has a kind of second-tier protection called "Auto-protect" which Symantec says was able to detect and warn against Sircam as the user sought to open the Sircam-infected attachment.

Anti-virus software typically needs to be updated every time a new virus is discovered so that the software can recognize the virus and flag it. Symantec this week began hearing from concerned customers that its first line of defense against Sircam wasn't working, and began to work on a second anti-Sircam patch that was finally made available at the Symantec Web site on July 24.

The episode was a source of chagrin for Symantec and anger for customers that said Symantec didn't do enough to publicize the failings of its first Sircam software update.

[Jul 28, 2001] MessageLabs - Virus Report - W32-SirCam latest statistics

[Jul 28, 2001] FAQ What you need to know about SirCam - Tech News - -- nice FAQ. A lot of interesting information is also in SirCam worm built to last - Tech News -

From the social-engineering point of view, the fact that it was using multiple messages--you couldn't just look for an 'I love you' header--helped keep this going," said Vincent Weafer, director of software maker Symantec's AntiVirus Research Center. "And in many cases the documents that are sent out have intriguing titles. People are going to be curious." Indeed, SirCam-infected documents sent to CNET have included such hard-to-resist titles as "SIS--cocaine business," "Madame handing over note" and "Any man of mine.

SirCam also takes its time. Instead of sending a barrage of messages all at once, as most mass-mailing viruses do, SirCam picks just one address each time it's activated, leaving fewer telltale signs of an e-mail attack.

By doing e-mail addresses one at a time, it creates a lot of confusion about where the virus is coming from," Sunner said. "It makes this one much more surreptitious.

[Jun 27, 2001] Powered by ZDNet SirCam hits FBI cyber-protection unit By Ted Bridis The Wall Street Journal Online July 25, 2001 5:16 AM PT -- that 's really funny...

WASHINGTON--A researcher in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cyber-protection unit unleashed a fast-spreading Internet virus that e-mailed private FBI documents to outsiders--all on the eve of a Senate hearing into troubles at the unit.

Although the Sircam virus didn't spread to other computers at the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, it did send at least eight documents to a number of outsiders. One, about the investigation into an unrelated virus, was marked "official use only." The Sircam virus has infected thousands of computers since its discovery last week.

FBI spokeswoman Deb Weierman said that no sensitive or classified information about continuing investigations was disclosed Tuesday. The "official use" designation protects documents from disclosure under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

[Jul 22, 2001] Users of Win32 systems beware ! It is by far the most prolific virus that is currently spreading. Pretty nasty and dangerous worm. Here is my pretty superficial analysis (I am no longer in this business ;-):

It looks like this worm was written by a decent programmer and is at least semi debugged. Can do some nasty damage to reputation of unsuspecting users ;-(. See pretty decent descriptions at Symantec, F-prot and Kaspersky (links are in sircam_coverage_comparision.shtml)

Who can be infected?
Any PC running Windows 9x and Windows Me. If can also infect Windows NT and 2000 but due to a flaw in the worm code SirCam cannot replicate itself those OSes.

For Windows 9x users this looks like a really dangerous thing, especially for those who use Outlook or just have MAPI configured correctly on Win32 (including Windows NT and Windows 2000) -- the worm does not need Outlook for functioning -- it has it's own built-in SMTP client

The most nasty thing is that this worm seems send certain files from C:\My Documents or C:\WINNT\Profiles\userid\Personal folder to addresses collected both from address book (if any) and IE temp files folder. For regular users of Internet that means hundreds of addresses are usually available for distributing some of My Document or Personal folder files even if the user has no addresses stored in the Outlook.

I would recommend to check My documents/Personal folders just in case ;-)

If case of infection SCam32.exe can be found in System32 folder and RECYCLED folder.

All descriptions seems missed the fact that SMTP settings need to be correct for the worm to work. Fortunately this is the case for many of NT 4 users (but not all).

If the user uses just Netscape and does not have IE or Outlook installed, then MAPI setting are often were not properly configured unless user have some other application that requires them.

One detail for Windows NT and 2000 -- the worm is written in Delphi and seems to have a memory leak --- virtual memory on the system soon is exhausted and Windows complains. This might serve as an early warning system ;-)

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