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New year storm worm rolls in

Worm described as New Year's greetings targeting PC users

Users are being advised to exercise inbox caution this month, as a large-scale attack of the Storm Worm variant ‘Zhelatin.pt' takes place under the cover of New Year greetings e-mails.

The process of PC infection begins, according to the expert team at MicroWorld Technologies, when an e-mail arrives with the subject line ‘Happy New Year' or ‘Message for new year'.

The body text of such mails features a web address along the lines of newyearcards2008.com, newyearwithlove.com, hohoho2008.com, hellosanta2008.com, happy2008toyou.com and uhavepostcard.com. Should a user click through to such websites, a message then appears that reads: "Your download should begin shortly........ Click here to launch the download and press Run. Enjoy!".

Clicking this link leads to a file named happynewyear2008.exe or happy2008.exe being opened, which in turn carries the worm Zhelatin.pt'. This installs its own files, designed to wrestle control of the host computer and to use it as part of a large spam relaying network (or ‘Botnet').

"Taking down the websites used in this worm attack is quite a challenge as all of them are hosted using a technique called Fast-Flux DNS," commented Manoj Mansukhani, MicroWorld Technologies' head of global marketing. "Fast-Fluxing is a method where virus authors deploy a continuously changing network of botnet computers to act as proxies for hosting harmful websites. To add to it, the Russian domain name provider where these sites are registered to is closed for the first week of January, which gives ample time for the criminals behind the worm to make merry!"

The first Zhelatin variant appeared in January 2007, when it was spread with the help of mails with the subject line ‘230 dead as storm batters Europe' and other socio political events - thereby deriving its popular ‘Storm Worm' name.

"Storm Worm is the most successful malware of its kind with an established botnet of around three million compromised computers worldwide, according to some estimates," Mansukhani added. This network of zombie PCs relays a significant portion of the spam mail traffic on the internet today."

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