Sophos, a world leader in IT security and control, has warned companies of a family of worms that spreads by copying itself onto removable drives such as USB memory sticks, and then automatically runs when the device is next connected to a computer.
The W32/SillyFD-AA worm hunts for removable drives such as floppy disks and USB memory sticks, and then creates a hidden file called autorun.inf to ensure a copy of the worm is run the next time it is connected to a Windows PC.
It also changes the title of Internet Explorer windows to append the phrase "Hacked by 1BYTE".
The Trojan changes the title of Internet Explorer windows to say that the PC has been "Hacked by 1BYTE".
"With USB keys becoming so cheap they are increasingly being given away at tradeshows and in direct mailshots. Marketing people are prepared to use them as 'throwaways' with the aim of securing sales leads," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Computer owners should tread very carefully when plugging an unknown device into their PC, however, as it could have malicious code planted on it. With a significant rise in financially motivated malware it could be an obvious backdoor into a company for criminals bent on targeting a specific business with their malicious code."
Sophos experts note that as more and more businesses now have strong defences in place to protect against email-aware viruses and malware, hackers are increasingly looking for other less well defended routes, including USB keys, to infect innocent users.
"In this example, changing the title of the Internet Explorer browser's windows should be a pretty clear sign to most people that something strange is afoot," continued Cluley. "It also indicates that this particular variant of the worm has not been written with completely clandestine intentions. A more savvy internet criminal would have not made it so obvious that the PC has been broken into, but silently steal from the PC without leaving such an obvious clue."
Sophos experts advise that users disable the autorun facility of Windows so removable devices such as USB keys and CD ROMs do not automatically launch when they are attached to a PC. Any storage device which is attached to a computer should be checked for virus and other malware before use. Floppy disks, CD ROMs, USB keys, external hard drives and other devices are all capable of carrying malicious code which could infect the computers of innocent users.
Sophos recommends companies automatically update their corporate virus protection, and defend their users with a consolidated solution to defend against the threats of viruses, spyware, hackers and spam.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.