Web Thunderstruck by 'Storm' Worm

Dennis Faas's picture

The newest email virus to terrorize PCs all across the world is aptly named the "Storm" worm, and shows just how far online hacking-for-profit networks have come.

Joe Stewart, considered  one of the best virus-hunters currently working for SecureWorks in Atlanta, released some shocking "Storm" statistics at the annual Black Hat security conference. According to Stewart, Storm releases spam messages by the millions, enticing all recipients to open fake e-cards supposedly sent by family and friends. (Source: blogs.usatoday.com)

The worm can also take on the form of an online newspaper article claiming some kind of catastrophic event.

When the recipient opens the attachment, their entire PC becomes part of a sprawling network of subservient "bot" machines. The hacker then uses the controlled PC to relay spam messages hyping the sale of cheap stock. In most cases, the hacker is the actual owner of the stock and attempts to sell it off as easy profit only after they have driven up the value. (Source: blogs.usatoday.com)

The full-sized scale of the operation is unbelievable. Already, virus-hunters for SecureWorks have blocked at least 20 million copies of Storm from hitting households.

Messaging security firm, Postini, has also reported blocking 120 million copies of Storm. (Source: zdnet.com)

There is also some speculation as to the number of full-functioning "Storm bots". According to Stewart, the number of bots has increased from 2,815 at the end of May to 1.7 million at the end of July. (Source: blogs.usatoday.com)

Storm is considered to have created the largest bot network ever measured.

So far, the hacker has only used the virus to promote email and stock fraud. The possibility of using the virus to create even more damage continues to shake up the entire online industry.

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