Watching and waiting for Sobig

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Aug 26, 2003

On 22 August 2003 anti-virus experts and sysadmins worldwide waited to discover what events, if any, would unfold when Sobig.F began a synchronized attack.

Anti-virus experts and sysadmins worldwide waited to discover what events, if any, would unfold when Sobig.F began a synchronized attack at 1900h GMT on Friday 22 August 2003 and subsequent second phase of attack at the same time on Sunday.

The worm was set to contact 20 predefined IP addresses (encrypted within the virus body) on UDP port 8998, which would then redirect infected machines to a URL from which an unknown program would be downloaded and run.

In the event, the attack failed: all 20 of the IP addresses were inaccessible during the first phase. With reported assistance from the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 19 of the 20 servers were taken offline and there were no signs of the virus being able to connect to the one remaining server.

Two days later, the second stage of attack was equally unsuccessful: although four of the servers started responding to pings just before the attack began - three of which were listening on port 8998 - none of them responded when sent the worm's eight-byte activation code.

Theories and rumours abound as to the identity of the author of Sobig.F and its predecessors: a number of experts believe the worm is the work of email spammers attempting to build an infrastructure for a spam attack of epic proportion; others believe that a highly organized group of hackers has orchestrated the attack, while it has even been speculated that an individual likened to comic book villain Lex Luther is behind the worm.

Unfortunately for would-be superhero AV researchers, all theories currently remain speculation. Meanwhile, a detailed look at the Sobig family is planned for the October issue of Virus Bulletin.

Posted on 26 August 2003 by Virus Bulletin

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