Security alert: 'Valentine's Day' Storm gives love a bad name

The latest storm worm is delivering Valentine’s Day themed executable names as attachments – for example ‘withlove.exe’ -- in e-mail messages straight from the heart with subjects such as “I would dream” and “Memories of you”.

Valentine's Day is less than a month away, and already the special messages are flowing in. But before you click on an e-mail from a secret admirer, security vendors are warning that a new variant of the storm worm is taking advantage of star-crossed lovers and the lovelorn.

The latest storm worm is delivering Valentine's Day themed executable names as attachments -- for example 'withlove.exe' -- in e-mail messages straight from the heart with subjects such as "I would dream" and "Memories of you".

Security vendors identified the new variant of the storm worm in recent days, and while it comes from the same family as the botnet Net building Storm Trojan, it's called a worm as it has exhibited worm like characteristics.

"Storm is basically self replicating and goes everywhere. The storm worm -- once it infects a PC -- will go through every file to find e-mail addresses," said Simon Clausen, chief executive officer of PC Tools. "When it gets these addresses it will send itself out to those people's using these e-mails."

Security company, PC Tools warns consumers that the worm delivers rootkits and maintains control of a system via peer-to-peer communications (p2p). This type of threat has been repeatedly appearing over the last 12 months disguised in e-mails targeting a variety of world events and popular holidays such as Christmas. Storm is actively being developed by the hackers distributing it. The Storm worm today versus the storm worm a year ago is a very different threat.

So this new variant was bound to happen; just don't let it happen to you. And the usual advice applies. Don't click on e-mail links. If you get a suspicious e-mail -- especially from someone you don't know, then the best way to remove it, if it is in your inbox, is to put it in the trash.

Clausen says consumers need to be aware that clicking on the link will immediately infect your PC. "If you click on the URL and go to the Web site, then you are already infected. Once you click on the URL a Java script runs, downloads and installs a rootkit, and you won't easily find it on your PC as it is hidden, although you might see an increase in hard drive activity as it searches through your files."

"Interestingly, we witnessed a variant of the worm dropping files like "burito.ini" and "burito5e84-1216.sys" before killing antivirus products and adding the victim's computer to its botnet," said PC Tools chief threat officer, Kurt Baumgartner. "The .ini file maintains a list of p2p information for maintaining communication throughout the botnet, while the .sys file is a driver that injects code deep into the operating system," said Baumgartner.

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Amanda Conroy

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