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Support@Microsoft.com Worm Makes the Rounds

It's an old trick, but a good (and nasty) one.

A new mass mailing worm spoofs Microsoft's domain name to deliver a payload disguised as an attachment from Microsoft. The worm was discovered by anti-virus vendors over the weekend and it picked up momentum Monday as users fired up their mailboxes for the work week.

The worm is known as W32.Sobig.B@mm or W32.HLLW.Mankx@mm by Symantec, W32/Palyh@MM by McAfee, W32/Palyh-A by Sophos and WORM_PALYH.A by Trend Micro. The messages all purport to come from support@microsoft.com.

Subject lines include "Your password," "Your details," "Approved (Ref: 38446-263)," "Re: Approved (Ref: 3394-65467)," "Re: My details," "Screensaver," "Cool screensaver," and "Re: Movie."

The attachment has at least nine names, all ending in .pif. The worm copies itself to the Windows installation folder, creates several files and makes some changes to the registry, among other things. After that, it uses its own SMTP engine to send itself to all the contacts it finds on the victim's system. It will activate only until May 31, according to Symantec and others.

In addition to warning your users about this particular worm, it's a good idea to remind them that Microsoft never sends out security patches or attachments. Microsoft alerts always link back to a Web download page.

There's a tool for removing this worm on Symantec's Security Response site (securityresponse.symantec.com).

A Microsoft warning for users about the recurring problem with attackers sending out fake security bulletins and attachments that look like they're from Microsoft can be found here: www.microsoft.com/technet/security/news/patch_hoax.asp .

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.