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The Storm Worm Amasses A Gigantic Botnet

Online threat from the Storm worm has grown ten times bigger than other e-mail assaults, over the years 2005-07. During this time it has built a botnet with 2 million PCs causing considerable worry, according to SecureWorks, an Internet Security firm.

The first distribution of Storm was to e-mail boxes in the U.S. and Europe in January 2007. The e-mail carrying the worm would entice recipients to open a link to read fake news stories surrounding a lethal storm or a similar disastrous event. As the user clicked on the link, his/her PC would turn over to the Storm's controller. When security companies started blocking these e-mails, Storm began sending a different link to view malicious e-cards pretending to be from friends or family members.

Before the arrival of Storm, there was on average 1 million virus-carrying e-mails per day circulating the Internet. Between the start of January 2007 till the end of May 2007, there was a huge number of bots, approximately 2,815 that launched Storm attacks. By the end of July 2007, the number of attacks rose to 1.7 million. On 24th July 2007, researchers detected 46.2 million malicious e-mails of which 99% had the Storm virus.

During the past two months of June and July 2007, Storm authors collected a skyrocketing number of zombie PCs that continued to grow exponentially. They formed one of the biggest botnets ever, said Joe Stewart, senior researcher at SecureWorks. Information Week published this in news on August 4, 2007.

The Storm continues to flood e-mail boxes in ever-new versions. A victim who clicks on the malignant link causes his/her infected PC to surreptitiously add to an expanding network of 'bot' PCs. These bots are built to launch DoS (denial of service) attacks, causing the greatest fear.

SecureWorks is cautioning business IT experts and home users to maintain awareness about the various scams relating to the Storm worm. IT experts could safeguard their systems by disabling peer-to-peer network function so that when the malicious code tries to capture the infected PCs via P2P networks, the computer would not turn into a bot, said Stewart.

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