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Discovered: August 25, 2004
Updated: February 13, 2007 12:26:49 PM
Also Known As: I-Worm.LovGate.ah [Kaspersky]
Type: Worm
Systems Affected: Windows

W32.Lovgate.AO@mm is a mass-mailing worm that propagates through open network shares and prepends itself to .exe files.

The email has a variable subject and attachment name, with a .bat, .cmd, .com, .exe, .pif, .scr, or.zip file extension.

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version August 25, 2004
  • Latest Rapid Release version May 21, 2019 revision 024
  • Initial Daily Certified version August 25, 2004
  • Latest Daily Certified version May 22, 2019 revision 001
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date August 25, 2004

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

Technical Description

When W32.Lovgate.AO@mm is run, it does the following:

  1. Creates a network share, named JAVA, which is mapped to %Windir%\JAVA.

    Note: %Windir% is a variable that refers to the Windows installation folder. By default, this is C:\Windows or C:\Winnt.

  2. Creates network shares, named "F" to "Z", which are mapped to the root folder of corresponding drive. For example, "F" is mapped to "F:\", "G" is mapped to "G:\".

  3. Copies itself to all the network shares using one or more of the following names:
    • Daemon Tools v3.41.exe
    • EnterNet 500 V1.5 RC1.exe
    • Flash2X Flash Hunter v1.1.2.pif
    • FoxMail V5.0.500.0.exe
    • Microsoft Office.exe
    • Minilyrics_Std_2.7.233.pif
    • Serv-U FTP Server 4.1.exe
    • Support Tools.exe
    • WINISO 5.3.exe
    • WinGate V5.0.10 Build.exe
    • Winamp skin_FinalFantasy.exe
    • Windows 2000 sp4.ZIP.exe
    • Windows Media Player.zip.exe
    • autoexec.bat
    • eMule-0.42e-VeryCD0407Install.exe
    • i386.exe

  4. Creates the following files:
    • %Windir%\Office.exe
    • %Windir%\Video.EXE
    • %System%\IEXPLORE.EXE
    • %System%\Kernel66.dll (A hidden file.)
    • %System%\TkBellExe.exe
    • %System%\Update_OB.exe
    • %System%\hxdef.exe
    • %System%\iexplorer.exe
    • %System%\real.exe

      Note: %System% is a variable that refers to the System folder. By default, this is C:\Windows\System (Windows 95/98/Me), C:\Winnt\System32 (Windows NT/2000), or C:\Windows\System32 (Windows XP).

  5. Creates the following files:
    • %System%\Lmmib20.dll
    • %System%\MSSIGN30.DLL
    • %System%\ODBC16.dll
    • %System%\msjdbc11.dll

      which make up the worm's backdoor component.

  6. Creates the file, upDate.exe, in the root folder of all the drives, except for CD-ROM drives. The file attributes of this file are set to System, Hidden, and Read-only.

  7. Drops a file named %System%\winPatch.dll. This is the password-stealing module, it attempts to steal password from an instant messenger tool which is called "QQ" or "OICQ".

  8. Creates and starts the following services:
    • _reg
    • Windows Management Protocol v.0(experimental)

  9. Overwrites the autorun.inf file on each drive with the following:

    Open="C:\upDate.exe"   /StartExplorer

  10. Creates an archive containing a copy of the worm with the following format in the root folder of all the drives, unless the drive letter is A, B, C or D:


    where <filename> may be one of the following:
    • Bakeup
    • ghost
    • email

  11. Adds the values:

    "Microsoft Inc." = "iexplorer.exe..."
    "Program In Windows" = "%System%\IEXPLORE.EXE"
    "Protected Storage" = "RUNDLL32.EXE MSSIGN30.DLL  ondll_reg..."
    "VFW Encoder/Decoder Settings" = "RUNDLL32.EXE MSSIGN30.DLL  ondll_reg..."
    "WinHelp" = "%System%\TkBellExe.exe..."

    to the registry key:


    so that it executes every time Windows starts.

  12. Adds the values:

    "Installed shell32.dll" = "Office.exe..."
    "SystemTra" = "C:\WINDOWS\Video.EXE"
    "Soft Profile Inc" = "%System%\hxdef.exe..."

    to the registry key:


    so that it executes every time Windows 95/98/Me starts.

  13. Adds the value:

    "run" = "real.exe"

    to the registry key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows

  14. Adds the value:

    "(Default)" = "Update_OB.exe %1..."

    to the registry key:


    so that the worm runs each time a .txt file is opened.

  15. Stops the following services:
    • Rising Realtime Monitor Service
    • Symantec AntiVirus Client
    • Symantec AntiVirus Server

  16. Terminates any processes with the following strings in their names:
    • Duba
    • Gate
    • KAV
    • KV
    • McAfee
    • NAV
    • RavMon.exe
    • Rfw.exe
    • SkyNet
    • Symantec
    • kill
    • rising

  17. Injects a process-watching procedure as a thread into either Explorer.exe or Taskmgr.exe. This thread will attempt to launch %System%\Iexplore.exe if it detects that the worm's process has stopped.

  18. The worm will then listen on TCP port 6060. The backdoor procedures steal information of an infected computer and stores it in the file, C:\Netlog.txt. The worm then emails the stolen information to the hacker.

  19. Extracts the location of the KaZaA-shared folder from the registry. Then, it copies itself to the folder as one of the following:
    • BlackIcePCPSetup_creak
    • Passware5.3
    • W32Dasm
    • orcard_original_creak
    • rainbowcrack-1.1-win
    • setup
    • word_pass_creak
    • wrar320sc
    • <random file name>

      with a .bat, .exe, .pif, or .scr file extension.

  20. Scans all the computers attached to the same network segment as the infected computer. The worm will attempt to authenticate to administrative shares on systems that are found, using "Administrator" as a user name, combined with the following passwords:
    • !@#$
    • !@#$%
    • !@#$%^
    • !@#$%^&
    • !@#$%^&*
    • 000000
    • 00000000
    • 007
    • 110
    • 111
    • 111111
    • 11111111
    • 121212
    • 123
    • 123123
    • 1234
    • 12345
    • 123456
    • 1234567
    • 12345678
    • 123456789
    • 123abc
    • 123asd
    • 2003
    • 2004
    • 2600
    • 321
    • 54321
    • 654321
    • 666666
    • 888888
    • 88888888
    • Admin
    • Administrator
    • Guest
    • Internet
    • Login
    • Password
    • aaa
    • abc
    • abc123
    • abcd
    • abcdef
    • abcdefg
    • admin
    • admin123
    • administrator
    • alpha
    • asdf
    • asdfgh
    • computer
    • database
    • enable
    • god
    • godblessyou
    • guest
    • home
    • login
    • love
    • mypass
    • mypass123
    • mypc
    • mypc123
    • oracle
    • owner
    • pass
    • passwd
    • password
    • pw123
    • pwd
    • root
    • secret
    • server
    • sex
    • sql
    • super
    • sybase
    • temp
    • temp123
    • test
    • test123
    • win
    • yxcv
    • zxcv
    • zzz

  21. If the worm successfully authenticates to a remote system, it will attempt to copy itself as:

    \\<remote computer name>\admin$\system32\TelePhone.exe

  22. Starts the file as the service, "NetWork Associates Inc."

  23. Replies to any messages that arrive in the mailbox of certain MAPI-compliant email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook.

    For example, if the incoming email has the following properties:

    Subject: <subject>
    From: <sender>@<domain.com>
    Message: <original message body>

    the worm will attempt to send the following email:

    Subject: Re: <subject>
    To: <sender>@<domain.com>

    '<sender>' wrote:
    > <original message body>

    <domain.com> account auto-reply:

    ... ... more details,look to the attachment.

    > Get your FREE <domain.com> account now! <

    Attachment: (One of the following)
    • Butterfly Garden.scr
    • FlashFXP.exe
    • HyperSnap-DX v5.rar.exe
    • Industry Giant II.exe
    • MSN Messenger.exe
    • MacroMedia.pif
    • Macromedia Flash.scr
    • Matrix Reloaded 3D.exe
    • MyIE.AVI.pif
    • Photoshop.EXE
    • Shakira.zip.exe
    • StarWars2 - CloneAttack.rm.scr
    • WindowsXP Creak.exe
    • dreamweaver MX (crack).exe
    • joke.exe
    • s3msong.MP3.pif

  24. Retrieves the email addresses on the infected machine and sends an email with the following properties. The From field may be spoofed.

    Subject: (One of the following)

    Delivery Status Notification (Delay)
    Mail Transaction Failed

    Message: (One of the following)

    Delivery to the following recipient has failed:
    It's the long-awaited film version of the Broadway hit. The message sent as a binary attachment.
    Mail failed. For further assistance, Please contact!
    The message contains Uniocode characters and has been sent as a binary attachment.
    This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification

    Attachment: (One of the following)


    : (One of the following)


  25. Searches the hard disk for .exe files. When it finds one, it creates a viral file, %System%\temp.uuu, and prepends this file to the .exe file. These files will be detected as W32.Lovgate.AO@mm!inf.


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 Removal Tool
Symantec Security Response has developed a removal tool to clean the infections of W32.Lovgate.AO@mm. This is the preferred method in most cases.

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. Reverse the changes made to the registry.
  4. Restart the computer in Safe mode or VGA mode.
  5. Run a full system scan and delete all the files detected as W32.Lovgate.AO@mm. Repair those detected as W32.Lovgate.AO@mm!inf.
For details on each of these steps, read the following instructions.

1. To disable 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 virus, worm, or Trojan infects a computer, System Restore may back up the virus, worm, or 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:
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. To update 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. To reverse the changes made to the registry

Before continuing, 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. For instructions, read the document, "How to make a backup of the Windows registry."
  1. Click Start > Run.
  2. Type regedit

    Then click OK.

  3. Navigate to the key:


  4. In the right pane, delete the values:

    "Microsoft Inc." = "iexplorer.exe..."
    "Program In Windows" = "%System%\IEXPLORE.EXE"
    "Protected Storage" = "RUNDLL32.EXE MSSIGN30.DLL  ondll_reg..."
    "VFW Encoder/Decoder Settings" = "RUNDLL32.EXE MSSIGN30.DLL  ondll_reg..."
    "WinHelp" = "%system%\TkBellExe.exe..."

  5. If you are using Windows 95/98/Me, navigate to the key:


  6. In the right pane, delete the values:

    "SystemTra" = "C:\WINDOWS\Video.EXE"
    "Soft Profile Inc" = "%System%\hxdef.exe..."
    "Installed shell32.dll" = "Office.exe..."

  7. If you are using Windows NT/2000/XP, navigate to the key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows

  8. In the right pane, delete the value:

    "run" = "real.exe"

  9. Navigate to the key:


  10. In the right pane, delete the subkeys:

    Windows Management Protocol v.0(experimental)

  11. Navigate to the key:


  12. In the right pane, change the value to:

    Windows 95/98/Me:
    "(Default)"="WINDOWS\NOTEPAD.EXE %1"

    Windows NT/2000/XP:
    "(Default)"="%SystemRoot%\system32\NOTEPAD.EXE %1"

  13. Exit the Registry Editor.

4. To restart 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.
5. To scan for and delete 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.Lovgate.AO@mm, click Delete.
  4. If any files are detected as infected with W32.Lovgate.AO@mm!inf, click Repair.
  5. Restart the computer in Normal mode. For instructions, read the section on returning to Normal mode in the document, "How to start the computer in Safe Mode."

Writeup By: Robert X Wang