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Worm Attack: A Grudge Match With Symantec?

The Rinbot worm, which hit the computer network at Turner Broadcasting Thursday, targets flaws in Symantec and Microsoft SQL Server software.

A worm is getting an awful lot of attention for a piece of malware that several antivirus vendors have rated as a low threat.

The Rinbot worm, which also is known as the Delbot worm, hit the computer network at the Turner Broadcasting System, a division of Time Warner and parent of CNN and CNNMoney.com, according to a company spokeswoman. A story on the CNN.com Web site said the network was hit on Thursday. It's not clear how much the worm impacted the network.

The worm, which is trying to build a botnet, also was getting quite a bit of play because it targets Symantec, a leading antivirus software vendor. While the worm does exploit a vulnerability in Symantec client security, it also goes after Microsoft's Windows Server Service remote buffer overflow vulnerability and Microsoft's SQL Server user authentication remote buffer overflow vulnerability.

Paul Moriarty, director of Internet content security at TrendMicro, notes that all three vulnerabilities have been patched. The worm can only get a foothold in company networks or individual machines if they haven't been updated.

"There's no evidence of a big attack here," says Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with Sophos. "It does look for vulnerabilities in other software, but the Symantec exploit is particularly notable. Symantec has put so much effort looking into the security of Microsoft Vista, while hackers have been going after Symantec."

Cluley adds that Sophos analysts haven't seen the worm, which was first spotted in the wild early in 2005, picking up a dramatic amount of speed. "It's not like it's gaining speed or becoming a Melissa or an I Love You. It's that it's hitting some high-visibility sites."

Rinbot also targets weak passwords, according to Cluley, noting that it has several hundred common passwords built into its code so it can do automatic searches for an easy way into a network. The malware looks to open backdoors, connecting to remote servers and enabling a hacker to control the machine remotely.

"Symantec Security Response is aware of the W32.Rinbot.L worm which spreads to network shares protected by weak passwords," said a Symantec spokesman in a statement emailed to InformationWeek. "This particular variant of the W32.Rinbot virus exploited an old vulnerability in Microsoft software (MS06-040) and Symantec AntiVirus. Symantec's Norton product line is not affected. In order to close off the vulnerability itself, a patch was made available to customers in May 2006. Customers who have followed intelligent patching practices should not be affected by the new variant."

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