Discovered: March 08, 2004
Updated: February 13, 2007 12:18:36 PM
Also Known As: W32/Netsky-J [Sophos], Win32.Netsky.J [Computer Assoc, W32/Netsky.j@MM [McAfee], WORM_NETSKY.J [Trend], I-Worm.NetSky.j [Kaspersky]
Type: Worm
Systems Affected: Windows

W32.Netsky.K@mm is a mass-mailing worm that uses its own SMTP engine to send itself to the email addresses it finds when scanning hard drives and mapped drives.

The "sender" of the email is spoofed, and its subject, message body, and attachment vary. The attachment has a .pif extension.

This threat is compressed with tElock.

  • Symantec Consumer products that support the Worm Blocking functionality automatically detect this threat as it attempts to spread.
  • The worm has an MD5 hash value of 0xE26BC65552359A226CE6589E60C22151.

The worm attempts to disinfect the systems that the following worms may have compromised. The deletion of the additional registry keys may result in other worms being de-activated.
  • W32.Beagle.A@mm through W32.Beagle.K@mm
  • W32.Mydoom.A@mm
  • W32.Mydoom.B@mm
  • W32.Netsky@mm
  • W32.Netsky.B@mm
  • W32.Cone@mm
  • W32.Cone.B@mm
  • W32.Welchia.B.Worm through W32.Welchia.D.Worm
  • W32.Pinfi
  • W32.HLLW.Deadhat.B
  • W32.Mimail.T@mm

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version March 08, 2004
  • Latest Rapid Release version March 23, 2017 revision 037
  • Initial Daily Certified version March 08, 2004
  • Latest Daily Certified version March 23, 2017 revision 041
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date March 08, 2004

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

Technical Description

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

  1. Creates a mutex named "LK[]SystemsMutex." This mutex allows only one instance of the worm to execute.

  2. Copies itself %Windir%\winlogon.exe.

    Note: %Windir% is a variable. The worm locates the Windows installation folder (by default, this is C:\Windows or C:\Winnt) and copies itself to that location.

  3. Adds the value:

    "ICQ Net"="%Windir%\winlogon.exe -stealth"

    to the registry key:


    so that the worm runs when you start Windows.

  4. Deletes the values:

    "Windows Services Host"

    from the registry key:


  5. Deletes the value:


    from the registry key:


  6. Deletes the values:

    "Windows Services Host"

    from the registry key:


  7. Deletes the registry keys:




    Note: The worms W32.Mydoom.A@mm and W32.Mydoom.B@mm add a value to the first key, so that explorer.exe loads their backdoor components.

  8. Retrieves email addresses from the files on drives C through Y, which have the following extensions:
    • .dhtm
    • .cgi
    • .shtm
    • .msg
    • .oft
    • .sht
    • .dbx
    • .tbb
    • .adb
    • .doc
    • .wab
    • .asp
    • .uin
    • .rtf
    • .vbs
    • .html
    • .htm
    • .pl
    • .php
    • .txt
    • .eml

      Note: Due to a bug in the code, the worm will search a file for email addresses if the extension is a sub-string of one of the aforementioned extensions.

      For example, the worm will scan the files with the .txt, .tx, and .t extensions.

  9. Uses its own SMTP engine to send itself to the email addresses it finds. The worm uses the local DNS server (retrieved using an API call), if available, to perform an MX lookup for the recipient address. If the local DNS fails, it will perform the lookup from the following list of hard-coded servers:

  10. The email has the following characteristics:

    From: Spoofed

    Subject: The subject line is one of the following:
    • Re: Your website
    • Re: Your product
    • Re: Your letter
    • Re: Your archive
    • Re: Your text
    • Re: Your bill
    • Re: Your details
    • Re: My details
    • Re: Word file
    • Re: Excel file
    • Re: Details
    • Re: Approved
    • Re: Your software
    • Re: Your music
    • Re: Here
    • Re: Re: Re: Your document
    • Re: Hello
    • Re: Hi
    • Re: Re: Message
    • Re: Your picture
    • Re: Here is the document
    • Re: Your document
    • Re: Thanks!
    • Re: Re: Thanks!
    • Re: Re: Document
    • Re: Document

      Message: The message is one of the following:
    • Your file is attached.
    • Please read the attached file.
    • Please have a look at the attached file.
    • See the attached file for details.
    • Here is the file.
    • Your document is attached.

      Attachment: The attachment is one of the following:
    • your_website.pif
    • your_product.pif
    • your_letter.pif
    • your_archive.pif
    • your_text.pif
    • your_bill.pif
    • your_details.pif
    • document_word.pif
    • document_excel.pif
    • my_details.pif
    • all_document.pif
    • application.pif
    • mp3music.pif
    • yours.pif
    • document_4351.pif
    • your_file.pif
    • message_details.pif
    • your_picture.pif
    • document_full.pif
    • message_part2.pif
    • document.pif
    • your_document.pif

  11. Avoids sending to the email addresses that contain any of the following strings:
    • skynet
    • messagelabs
    • abuse
    • fbi
    • orton
    • f-pro
    • aspersky
    • cafee
    • orman
    • itdefender
    • f-secur
    • avp
    • spam
    • ymantec
    • antivi
    • icrosoft

  12. If the system time is between 6:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. on Tuesday, March 2, 2004, the PC speaker will beep in a continuous loop. Each beep will be for a random period of time, at a random frequency.

Symantec Gateway Security 5400 Series and Symantec Gateway Security v1.0
  • Antivirus component: An update for the Symantec Gateway Security AntiVirus engine to protect against the W32.Netsky.K@mm worm is now available. Symantec Gateway Security 5xxx users are advised to run LiveUpdate.
  • IDS/IPS component: No update is currently planned for this worm.
  • Full application inspection firewall component: By default, Symantec's full application inspection firewall technology protects against the propagation of the W32.Netsky.K@mm worm by blocking infected systems from directly sending email to the Internet.

Symantec Enterprise Firewall 7.0.x and Symantec VelociRaptor 1.5
By default, Symantec's full application inspection firewall technology protects against the propagation of the W32.Netsky.K@mm worm by blocking infected systems from directly sending email to the Internet.

Symantec Clientless VPN Gateway
The Symantec Clientless VPN Gateway v5.0 can protect against this virus threat when deployed in combination with an SGS 5400 security gateway that’s configured to scan all mail connections. To reduce risk of further propagation you should also include a rule that only allows mail access from authenticated remote users to your internal mail server.

Symantec Firewall/VPN 100/200 Appliances
To reduce the risk of further propagation, make sure you have a rule that only allows inbound/outbound mail to/from your mail server.


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.


Removal using the W32.Netsky@mm Removal Tool
Symantec Security Response has developed a removal tool to clean the infections of W32.Netsky.K@mm. Try this removal tool first, as it is the easiest way to remove this threat.

Manual Removal
The following instructions pertain to all current and recent Symantec antivirus products, including the Symantec AntiVirus and Norton AntiVirus product lines.

  1. Disable System Restore (Windows Me/XP).
  2. Update the virus definitions.
  3. Restart the computer in Safe mode or VGA mode.
  4. Run a full system scan and delete all the files detected as W32.Netsky.K@mm.
  5. Reverse the changes made to the registry.
For details on each of these steps, read the following instructions.

1. Disabling System Restore (Windows Me/XP)
If you are running Windows Me or Windows XP, we recommend that you temporarily turn off System Restore. Windows Me/XP uses this feature, which is enabled by default, to restore the files on your computer in case they become damaged. If a worm infects a computer, System Restore may back up the worm Trojan on the computer.

Windows prevents outside programs, including antivirus programs, from modifying System Restore. Therefore, antivirus programs or tools cannot remove threats in the System Restore folder. As a result, System Restore has the potential of restoring an infected file on your computer, even after you have cleaned the infected files from all the other locations.

Also, a virus scan may detect a threat in the System Restore folder even though you have removed the threat.

For instructions on how to turn off System Restore, read your Windows documentation, or one of the following articles:
Note: When you are completely finished with the removal procedure and are satisfied that the threat has been removed, re-enable System Restore by following the instructions in the aforementioned documents.

For additional information, and an alternative to disabling Windows Me System Restore, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article, "Antivirus Tools Cannot Clean Infected Files in the _Restore Folder," Article ID: Q263455.

2. Updating the virus definitions
Symantec Security Response fully tests all the virus definitions for quality assurance before they are posted to our servers. There are two ways to obtain the most recent virus definitions:

  • Running LiveUpdate, which is the easiest way to obtain virus definitions: These virus definitions are posted to the LiveUpdate servers once each week (usually on Wednesdays), unless there is a major virus outbreak. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by LiveUpdate, refer to the Virus Definitions (LiveUpdate).
  • Downloading the definitions using the Intelligent Updater: The Intelligent Updater virus definitions are posted on U.S. business days (Monday through Friday). You should download the definitions from the Symantec Security Response Web site and manually install them. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by the Intelligent Updater, refer to the Virus Definitions (Intelligent Updater).

    The Intelligent Updater virus definitions are available: Read "How to update virus definition files using the Intelligent Updater" for detailed instructions.

3. Restarting the computer in Safe mode or VGA mode

Shut down the computer and turn off the power. Wait for at least 30 seconds, and then restart the computer in Safe mode or VGA mode.
  • For Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, or XP users, restart the computer in Safe mode. For instructions, read the document, "How to start the computer in Safe Mode."
  • For Windows NT 4 users, restart the computer in VGA mode.
4. Scanning for and deleting the infected files
  1. Start your Symantec antivirus program and make sure that it is configured to scan all the files.
  2. Run a full system scan.
  3. If any files are detected as infected with W32.Netsky.K@mm, click Delete.

5. Reversing the changes made to the registry

WARNING: Symantec strongly recommends that you back up the registry before making any changes to it. Incorrect changes to the registry can result in permanent data loss or corrupted files. Modify the specified keys only. Read the document, "How to make a backup of the Windows registry ," for instructions.
  1. Click Start, and then click Run. (The Run dialog box appears.)
  2. Type regedit

    Then click OK. (The Registry Editor opens.)

  3. Navigate to the key:


  4. In the right pane, delete the value:

    "ICQ Net"="%Windir%\winlogon.exe -stealth"

  5. Exit the Registry Editor.

Writeup By: Yana Liu