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The Silent Storm

Is it a secret? Are people afraid to talk about it? Since the beginning of this year there has been a growing threat to our security on the Internet. This is nothing new right? It seems there is always something of this nature hanging around. Well, this threat has the potential to wreak pure havoc and so far, it has drawn no attention.

So you’re probably wondering what this new great threat is, especially since you haven’t heard much, if anything, about it. It’s called the “Storm Worm”. This worm started by hiding in e-mail attachments with a subject line to really grab your attention. When users open this attachment, their computer becomes infected and enrolled in a quick-growing network of other infected computers forming a “botnet”.

Changing regularly, the Storm’s delivery began as a PDF, then e-cards, blog-comments, and YouTube invites. As of last month, it began attacking websites focused on identifying it such as a malware expert who published an analysis of how it worked. Aside from that, the botnet is mostly silent and does not draw attention to infected hosts, which makes it incredibly difficult to detect.

This Storm has been spreading quickly and steadily since last January, creating a huge botnet and only affects computers running Microsoft Windows. The size of the botnet is unclear but it’s said that “reputable security professionals cite estimates between one million to fifty million computers world-wide.” But as Kevin, a good friend of mine said when we had a discussion about this, “Estimates mean nothing. These worms are always evolving and hitting different vulnerabilities. It could infect 20 machines right after 100 were cleaned up, you just never know.”

John Naughton of The Observer says:

“To date, the botnet has been used only intermittently, which is disquieting: what it means is that someone, somewhere, is quietly building a doomsday machine that can be rented out to the highest bidder, or used for purposes that we cannot yet predict.” The Storm worm may be the new face of malware, not written for notoriety,
revenge, or petty spamming, but as a professional venture in crime designed to maximize profits for those involved.

You can read more about this silent Storm here.

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