Worms on the Rise

( [email protected] ) Jun 02, 2004 02:44 PM EDT

Sasser and Netsky were the major virus nuisances in May, according to security firm Sophos, but they were not the only causes for concern. The firm identified 959 new viruses during the month -- the highest number since December 2001.

The Sasser and Netsky worms led security breaches in May, according to Sophos, however they were certainly not the only causes for concern. Sophos identified the highest number of viruses since December 2001 with a total of 959 counts.

"Both Sasser and Netsky may have captured the headlines, but there were many other viruses written this month -- 959 in total," Kraft said. "In the month of May, we saw a considerable increase in cyber-criminal activity, which suggests that even the arrest of Sven Jaschan, the German teenager who has owned up to writing Sasser and Netsky, has done very little to limit the problem."

"Sasser proved to be a major nuisance in May, affecting even more users than even the Netsky worms," said Chris Kraft, senior security analyst. "Requiring no user intervention and taking advantage of a relatively new Microsoft hole, it sneaked onto unprotected PCs, inundating Internet connections."

Corporate network security is not dealing as well as it should against virus attacks. Those even with little skill are able to breach the networks. The creator of Sasser was an 18-year old from Germany who ended up disrupting the Delta Airlines and the Coast Guard systems.

"It is very simple to write these things, and with some worms -- e-mail worms in particular -- it takes hardly any skill at all. You can do it from a kit, in fact." said Panda Software CTO Patrick Hinojosa

On the other hand, taking precautions can reduce the threats to a minimum. The malicious effects of the Sasser worm could have easily been avoided had users installed the patch from Microsoft released a few weeks before the attacks. "This element of network security is not rocket science -- it is a default configuration," said Hinojosa.