The worm exploiting a critical Windows bug that Microsoft Corp. patched with an emergency fix in late October is being used to build a new botnet, a security researcher said today.
Ivan Macalintal, a senior research engineer with Trend Micro Inc., said that the worm, which his company has dubbed “Downad.a” — it’s called “Conficker.a” by Microsoft and “Downadup” by Symantec Corp. — is a key component in a new botnet that criminals are creating.
“We think 500,000 is a ball park figure,” said Macalintal when asked the size of the new botnet. “That’s not as large as some, such as [the] Kraken [botnet], or Storm earlier, but it’s still starting to grow.”
Last week, Microsoft warned that the worm was behind a spike in exploits of a bug in the Windows Server service, which is used by the operating system to connect to network file and print servers. Microsoft patched the service with an emergency fix it issued Oct. 23, shortly after it discovered a small number of infected PCs in Southeast Asia.
However, the new worm is a global threat, said Macalintal. “This has real potential to do damage,” he said. Trend Micro has spotted infected IP addresses on the networks of Internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S., China, India, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.
The worm first appeared about a week and a half ago, and began spreading in earnest just before Thanksgiving, he added.