W32.Sponge@mm

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Discovered: October 30, 2002
Updated: February 13, 2007 11:48:06 AM
Also Known As: W32/Sponge@MM [McAfee], WORM_SPONGE.A [Trend]
Type: Worm
Systems Affected: Windows


W32.Sponge@mm is a mass-mailing worm that uses Microsoft Outlook to send itself to all contacts in the Outlook Address Book. The email has the following characteristics,

Subject:  SpongeBob Wallpaper
Attachment: Spongy.exe

It overwrites .scr and .pif files in all folders except the root folder. It also appends code to the end of .htm files in all folders except the root folder.

The worm contains a macro component that is used to infect Microsoft Word documents and the global template Normal.dot. This is detected as W97M.Sponge.

It is written in the Microsoft Visual Basic programming language and compressed using UPX.

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version October 30, 2002
  • Latest Rapid Release version March 23, 2017 revision 037
  • Initial Daily Certified version October 30, 2002
  • Latest Daily Certified version March 23, 2017 revision 041
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date October 30, 2002

Click here for a more detailed description of Rapid Release and Daily Certified virus definitions.

Writeup By: Yana Liu

Discovered: October 30, 2002
Updated: February 13, 2007 11:48:06 AM
Also Known As: W32/Sponge@MM [McAfee], WORM_SPONGE.A [Trend]
Type: Worm
Systems Affected: Windows


When W32.Sponge@mm runs, it does the following:

It creates two hidden subfolders:

  • C:\%windir%\Kn0x3
  • C:\Explore

NOTE: %windir% is a variable. The worm locates the \Windows folder (by default this is C:\Windows or C:\Winnt) and creates the folders in that location.

It then copies itself as:
  • C:\%windir%\kn0x\ace1.com
  • C:\Explore\Help.exe
  • C:\Porno.scr
  • C:\Jokes.pif
  • C:\SpongeBob_Game.exe
  • C:\SpongeBob.scr
  • C:\SpongeBob.com

The attributes of the files Jokes.pif, SpongeBob_Game.exe, SpongeBob.scr, and SpongeBob.com are set to read-only and hidden.

It creates C:\SpongeBob.eml. This is an email file that has the worm as its attachment.

It overwrites all .scr and .pif files in all folders except for the root folder.

It appends code to all .htm files in all folders except the root folder. The code is designed to run the worm from the infected files, but it cannot do so because of a bug in the code.

NOTE : Symantec antivirus products detect infected .htm files as W32.Sponge@mm (html).

The worm creates the text file C:\Readme.txt, which is 1,225 bytes in length. This file contains the source code of a macro that runs C:\Porno.scr from infected Microsoft Word documents. The worm imports the macro in C:\Readme.txt to the Microsoft Word template file Normal.dot. The macro uses the temporary file C:\Xploit.mmm to copy itself to other Word documents. The macro can also disable macro security in Word.

NOTES:
  • Symantec antivirus products detect infected Word documents as W97M.Sponge.
  • C:\Readme.txt is a text file and is not viral by itself. Therefore, Symantec antivirus products do not detect it. Delete this file manually if your computer was infected with W32.Sponge@mm or W97M.Sponge.

The worm adds the value

Winrun C:\%windir%\kn0x\ace1.com

to the registry key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices

so that the worm runs as a service when you restart Windows.

The worm then displays this message:



The worm uses Microsoft Outlook to send itself to all contacts in the Outlook Address Book. The message has the following characteristics,
Subject:  SpongeBob Wallpaper
Message:  Send this to your friends and make them laugh...
Attachment: Spongy.exe

Recommendations

Symantec Security Response encourages all users and administrators to adhere to the following basic security "best practices":

  • Use a firewall to block all incoming connections from the Internet to services that should not be publicly available. By default, you should deny all incoming connections and only allow services you explicitly want to offer to the outside world.
  • Enforce a password policy. Complex passwords make it difficult to crack password files on compromised computers. This helps to prevent or limit damage when a computer is compromised.
  • Ensure that programs and users of the computer use the lowest level of privileges necessary to complete a task. When prompted for a root or UAC password, ensure that the program asking for administration-level access is a legitimate application.
  • Disable AutoPlay to prevent the automatic launching of executable files on network and removable drives, and disconnect the drives when not required. If write access is not required, enable read-only mode if the option is available.
  • Turn off file sharing if not needed. If file sharing is required, use ACLs and password protection to limit access. Disable anonymous access to shared folders. Grant access only to user accounts with strong passwords to folders that must be shared.
  • Turn off and remove unnecessary services. By default, many operating systems install auxiliary services that are not critical. These services are avenues of attack. If they are removed, threats have less avenues of attack.
  • If a threat exploits one or more network services, disable, or block access to, those services until a patch is applied.
  • Always keep your patch levels up-to-date, especially on computers that host public services and are accessible through the firewall, such as HTTP, FTP, mail, and DNS services.
  • Configure your email server to block or remove email that contains file attachments that are commonly used to spread threats, such as .vbs, .bat, .exe, .pif and .scr files.
  • Isolate compromised computers quickly to prevent threats from spreading further. Perform a forensic analysis and restore the computers using trusted media.
  • Train employees not to open attachments unless they are expecting them. Also, do not execute software that is downloaded from the Internet unless it has been scanned for viruses. Simply visiting a compromised Web site can cause infection if certain browser vulnerabilities are not patched.
  • If Bluetooth is not required for mobile devices, it should be turned off. If you require its use, ensure that the device's visibility is set to "Hidden" so that it cannot be scanned by other Bluetooth devices. If device pairing must be used, ensure that all devices are set to "Unauthorized", requiring authorization for each connection request. Do not accept applications that are unsigned or sent from unknown sources.
  • For further information on the terms used in this document, please refer to the Security Response glossary.

Writeup By: Yana Liu

Discovered: October 30, 2002
Updated: February 13, 2007 11:48:06 AM
Also Known As: W32/Sponge@MM [McAfee], WORM_SPONGE.A [Trend]
Type: Worm
Systems Affected: Windows


NOTE: These instructions are for all current and recent Symantec antivirus products, including the Symantec AntiVirus and Norton AntiVirus product lines.

  1. Update the virus definitions.
  2. Run a full system scan.
    1. Delete all files that are detected as W32.Spongy@mm, and repair all Word documents that are detected as W97M.Sponge.
    2. Delete C:\Readme.txt and C:\SpongeBob.eml manually.
    3. Restore all overwritten .scr and .pif files from known clean copies.
  3. Delete the value that the worm added to the registry key

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices

For details on how to do this, read the following instructions.

To update the virus definitions:
All virus definitions receive full quality assurance testing by Symantec Security Response before being posted to our servers. There are two ways to obtain the most recent virus definitions:
  • Run LiveUpdate, which is the easiest way to obtain virus definitions. These virus definitions are posted to the LiveUpdate servers once each week (usually Wednesdays) unless there is a major virus outbreak. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by LiveUpdate, look at the Virus Definitions (LiveUpdate) line at the top of this write-up.
  • Download the definitions using the Intelligent Updater. Intelligent Updater virus definitions are posted on U.S. business days (Monday through Friday). They must be downloaded from the Symantec Security Response Web site and installed manually. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by the Intelligent Updater, look at the Virus Definitions (Intelligent Updater) line at the top of this write-up.

    Intelligent Updater virus definitions are available here. For detailed instructions on how to download and install the Intelligent Updater virus definitions from the Symantec Security Response Web site, click here.

To scan for and delete the infected files:
  1. Start your Symantec antivirus program, and make sure that it is configured to scan all files.
  2. Run a full system scan.
    • If any files are detected as infected with W32.Sponge@mm, click Delete.
    • If any files are detected as infected with W97M.Sponge, choose Repair.
  3. Use Windows Explorer to delete C:\Readme.txt and C:\SpongeBob.eml. Restore all overwritten .scr and .pif files from backups.

To remove the value from the registry:

CAUTION : Symantec strongly recommends that you back up the registry before you make any changes to it. Incorrect changes to the registry can result in permanent data loss or corrupted files. Modify only the keys that are specified. Read the document How to make a backup of the Windows registry for instructions.
  1. Click Start, and click Run. The Run dialog box appears.
  2. Type regedit and then click OK. The Registry Editor opens.
  3. Navigate to the following key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunServices
  4. In the right pane, delete the value that the worm added:

    Winrun C:\%Windir%\kn0x\ace1.com
  5. Click Registry, and click Exit.


Writeup By: Yana Liu