Update: Slammer worm slugs Internet, slows Web traffic
IDG News Service - A new worm that has been attacking a known vulnerability in Microsoft SQL 2000 Web servers and that has been slowing down or halting Internet traffic worldwide could prove as tricky a nemesis as security foes Code Red and Nimda, according to firms tracking the outbreak.
Half a dozen security outlets have issued bulletins describing worm W32/SQL Slammer, dubbed "Slammer." Using a buffer overflow to take over a server, the worm sends out a flood of packets, an effect similar to a denial-of-service attack.
Network Associates Inc.'s Anti-Virus Emergency Response Team (AVERT) estimates that 150,000 to 200,000 servers worldwide have already been infected.
When the attack began around 12:30 a.m. EST, packet loss across the Internet approached 20%, according to monitoring firm Matrix NetSystems Inc., in Austin, Texas. Packet loss rates are usually less than 1%.
One of the countries worst affected was South Korea, where most of the nation's fixed-line and mobile Internet users were unable to access Web sites for nearly half of the day.
"The networks of Internet service providers in South Korea were partially down from about 2:30 p.m. today," said Lee Kin Tae, a technical assistant at the Korean Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Seoul. "From around that time, most people in South Korea cannot use the Internet."
Ten hours after the attack began, traffic flow was picking up, with packet loss down to around 5% by Matrix NetSystems' readings.
Recovering from the worm is easy, security firms agree: Installing Microsoft Corp.'s recently released SQL Server 2000 Service Pack 3 solves the problem. Some also recommend that systems administrators consider blocking traffic on port 1434 from unknown machines.
Firms disagree, though, on the severity of the threat posed by Slammer. Trend Micro Inc. labels the worm "destructive" and "high risk," while Symantec Corp. assesses its damage potential as "low." Network Associates Inc. and eEye Digital Security Inc., one of the first to spot and dissect the worm, both issued high-risk alerts on the worm.
While the worm may be easy to defend against, a vast number of systems remain unprotected.
"It's probably worse than it was three or four hours ago," said AVERT Vice President Vincent Gullotto, about 12 hours after the attack began. "This is not going to be cleaned up any time soon."
"[Slammer] doesn't destroy, remove, hack or extract any data," said Tom Ohlsson, Matrix NetSystems' vice president of marketing and business development. "But it's a very, very aggressive worm about self-replication."
Slammer's speed in spreading itself recalls another worm that rampaged through the Net: Code Red, a scourge that appeared in mid-2001 and infected hundreds of thousands of servers.
Despite the availability of a patch, Code Red caused $2 billion in damage, according to one research firm's estimates. New infections continued spreading more than a year after the worm's discovery, according to several vendors, as some vulnerable systems remained unprotected.
Slammer is "similar in terms of speed, but nowhere near as destructive" as Code Red, Ohlsson said.
The worm is "certainly on the same level" as Code Red in terms of the threat it poses, said AVERT's Gullotto.
A representative of the U.S. National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) confirmed that the center was investigating the problems. The NIPC hasn't posted any alerts on its Web site concerning the worm or vulnerability since Microsoft first identified the weakness in July 2002.
A spokesman for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment in detail on the Internet problems, but said, "The bureau is aware a worm was attacking the Internet overnight and we are monitoring it."
The worm hit a day after South Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) issued an emergency alert on the possibility of denial-of-service attacks, according to local media. The MIC received reports that South Korean computers were to be used as a springboard for attacks, said the country's Yonhap News Agency.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The Threat Landscape Hardly a day goes by without the discovery of a new cyberthreat somewhere in the world! But how do you keep up with...
- Security for Virtualization In the rush to implement virtualization, security has become second. So while the business benefits are clear, the risks are less well documented...
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Malware and Vulnerabilities White Papers | Webcasts