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    The Danger of bot software 4/28/2004  
While many network administrators worry about the next worm, security experts are warning that a quieter but
equally damaging threat is slowly gaining control of large networks of computers Known as bot software.

Related News!
  The Danger of bot software
  Next update to Windows XP

The remote attack tools can seek out and place themselves on vulnerable computers,
then run silently in the background, letting an attacker send commands to the system while its owner works
away, oblivious. The latest versions of the software created by the security underground let attackers
control compromised computers through chat servers and peer-to-peer networks, command the software to attack other computers and steal information from infected systems.

What's new: Internet security watchers warn that the most common kind of bot software has been upgraded. A new variant
incorporates publicly available code for breaching security through a vulnerability on almost every Windows
system sold in the past five years.

Bottom line:
Bot software has spread widely--just how quickly is difficult even for security experts to evaluate. Symantec
puts the number of computers compromised in the hundreds of thousands. Other security experts have put the
number in the millions. Moreover, with source code commonly available, bot software gets quickly updated to take advantage of the latest flaws.

Internet security watchers warned that the most common kind of bot software, Agobot, had been upgraded.
A new variant incorporates publicly available code for breaching a computer's security through a vulnerability
in a security component installed on almost every Microsoft Windows system sold in the past five years.
That component is called the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service, or LSASS. The LSASS version of the Agobot software uses a particular application data channel, or port, to attack
vulnerable systems. On Thursday, Ullrich said traffic on that port had jumped in the previous 24 hours.

Security company Symantec, which, like the Internet Storm Center, monitors sensors around the Internet, also
warned that the LSASS version of Agobot--or Gaobot, in Symantec's parlance--is spreading.

"The worry here is: How many hosts are out there infected with these things?" said Alfred Huger, senior
director of Symantec security response. Bot stealthiness
Anxiety is understandable, given that Symantec and the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis,
or CAIDA--two groups thought to have some of the best data on Internet attacks--both undercounted the extent of the MSBlast infection by an order of magnitude.

The groups' researchers had estimated that the MSBlast worm and its variants compromised half a million systems
at most. Yet last month, Microsoft revealed that its Windows Update system had patched and then
cleaned 8 million systems infected with the virus. On Wednesday, the software giant changed that number to 9.5 million.

Symantec puts the number of computers compromised with bot software in the hundreds of thousands. Other
security experts have put the number in the millions.



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