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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000460.txt from 1999/06

From: "Mark Charette" <>
Subj: [kl] Off Topic: CERT Advisory CA-99.06 - New information regarding ExploreZip
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 07:42:24 -0400

Latest info from CERT:
----- Original Message -----
From: CERT Advisory <>
Subject: CERT Advisory CA-99.06 - New information regarding ExploreZip

> CERT Advisory CA-99-06-explorezip
> Original issue date: Thursday June 10, 1999
> Last Revised Date: June 14, 1999
> Added information about the program's self-propagation via networked
> shares; also updated anti-virus vendor URLs.
> Source: CERT/CC
> Note: The CERT Coordination Center has discovered new information
> regarding the ExploreZip worm. This re-issue of CERT Advisory CA-99-06
> contains new information regarding an additional means by which the
> Worm can spread, and a caution about disinfecting your systems. We
> will continue to update this advisory as new information is
> discovered. We encourage you to check our web site frequently for any
> new information.
> Systems Affected
> * Machines running Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows NT.
> * Machines with filesystems and/or shares that are writable by a
> user of an infected system.
> * Any mail handling system could experience performance problems or
> a denial of service as a result of the propagation of this Trojan
> horse program.
> Overview
> The CERT Coordination Center continues to receive reports and
> inquiries regarding various forms of malicious executable files that
> are propagated as file attachments in electronic mail.
> During the second week of June 1999, the CERT/CC began receiving
> reports of sites affected by ExploreZip, a Trojan horse/worm program
> that affects Windows systems and has propagated in email attachments.
> The number and variety of reports we have received indicate that this
> has the potential to be a widespread attack affecting a variety of
> sites.
> I. Description
> Our original analysis indicated that the ExploreZip program is a
> Trojan horse, since it initially requires a victim to open or run an
> email attachment in order for the program to install a copy of itself
> and enable further propagation. Further analysis has shown that, once
> installed, the program may also behave as a worm, and it may be able
> to propagate itself, without any human interaction, to other networked
> machines that have certain writable shares.
> The ExploreZip Trojan horse has been propagated between users in the
> form of email messages containing an attached file named
> zipped_files.exe. Some email programs may display this attachment
> with a "WinZip" icon. The body of the email message usually appears to
> come from a known email correspondent, and typically contains the
> following text:
> I received your email and I shall send you a reply ASAP.
> Till then, take a look at the attached zipped docs.
> The subject line of the message may not be predictable and may appear
> to be sent in reply to previous email.
> Opening the zipped_files.exe file causes the program to execute. It is
> possible under some mailer configurations that a user might
> automatically open a malicious file received in the form of an email
> attachment. When the program is run, an error message is displayed:
> Cannot open file: it does not appear to be a valid archive. If this
> file is part of a ZIP format backup set, insert the last disk
> of the backup set and try again. Please press F1 for help.
> Destruction of files
> * The program searches local and networked drives (drive letters C
> through Z) for specific file types and attempts to erase the
> contents of the files, leaving a zero byte file. The targets may
> include Microsoft Office files, such as .doc, .xls, and .ppt, and
> various source code files, such as .c, .cpp, .h, and .asm.
> * The program may also be able to delete files that are writable to
> it via SMB/CIFS file sharing. The program appears to look through
> the network neighborhood and delete any files that are shared and
> writable, even if those shares are not mapped to networked drives
> on the infected computer.
> * The program appears to continually delete the contents of targeted
> files on any mapped networked drives.
> The program does not appear to delete files with the "hidden" or
> "system" attribute, regardless of their extension.
> System modifications
> * The zipped_files.exe program creates a copy of itself in a file
> called explore.exe in the following location(s):
> On Windows 98 - C:WINDOWSSYSTEMExplore.exe
> On Windows NT - C:WINNTSystem32Explore.exe
> This explore.exe file is an identical copy of the zipped_files.exe
> Trojan horse, and the file size is 210432 bytes.
> MD5 (Explore.exe) = 0e10993050e5ed199e90f7372259e44b
> * On Windows 98 systems, the zipped_files.exe program creates an
> entry in the WIN.INI file:
> run@-----.exe
> On Windows NT systems, an entry is made in the system registry:
> [HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindows
> NTCurrentVersionWindows]
> run @-----.exe"
> Propagation via file sharing
> Once explore.exe is running, it takes the following steps to propagate
> to other systems via file sharing:
> * Each time the program is executed, the program will search the
> network for all shares that contain a WIN.INI file with a valid
> "[windows]" section in the file.
> * For each such share that it finds, the program will attempt to
> + copy itself to a file named _setup.exe on that share
> + modify the WIN.INI file on that share by adding the entry
> "run@-----.exe"
> The account running the program on the original infected machine
> needs to have permission to write to the second victim's shared
> directory. (That is, no vulnerabilities are being exploited in
> order for the program to spread in this manner.)
> The _setup.exe file is identical to the zipped_files.exe and
> explore.exe files on the original infected machine.
> * The original infected system will continue to scan shares that
> have been mapped to a local drive letter containing a valid
> WIN.INI file. For each such share that is found, the program will
> "re-infect" the victim system as described above.
> On Windows 98 systems that have a "run@-----.exe" entry in the
> WIN.INI file (as described previously), the C:WINDOWS\_setup.exe
> program is executed automatically whenever a user logs in. On Windows
> NT systems, a "run@-----.INI file does not
> appear to cause the program to be executed automatically.
> When run as _setup.exe, the program will attempt to
> * make another copy of itself in C:WINDOWSSYSTEMExplore.exe
> * modify the WIN.INI file again by replacing the "run@-----.exe"
> entry with "run@-----.exe"
> Note that when the program is run as _setup.exe, it configures the
> system to later run as explore.exe. But when run as explore.exe, it
> attempts to infect shares with valid WIN.INI files by configuring
> those files to run _setup.exe. Since this infection process includes
> local shares, affected systems may exhibit a "ping pong" behavior in
> which the infected host alternates between the two states.
> Propagation via email
> The program propagates by replying to any new email that is received
> by the infected computer. The reply messages are similar to the
> original email described above, each containing another copy of the
> zipped_files.exe attachment.
> We will continue to update this advisory with more specific
> information as we are able to confirm details. Please check the
> CERT/CC web site for the current version containing a complete
> revision history.
> II. Impact
> * Users who execute the zipped_files.exe Trojan horse will infect
> the host system, potentially causing targeted files to be
> destroyed.
> * Users who execute the Trojan horse may also infect other networked
> systems that have writable shares.
> * Because of the large amount of network traffic generated by
> infected machines, network performance may suffer.
> * Indirectly, this Trojan horse could cause a denial of service on
> mail servers. Several large sites have reported performance
> problems with their mail servers as a result of the propagation of
> this Trojan horse.
> III. Solution
> Use virus scanners
> While many anti-virus products are able to detect and remove the
> executables locally, because of the continuous re-infection process,
> simply removing all copies of the program from an infected system may
> leave your system open to re-infection at a later time, perhaps
> immediately. To prevent re-infection, you must not serve any shares
> containing a WIN.INI file to any potentially infected machines. If you
> share files with everyone in your domain, then you must disable shares
> with WIN.INI files until every machine on your network has been
> disinfected.
> In order to detect and clean current viruses, you must keep your
> scanning tools up to date with the latest definition files. Please see
> the following anti-virus vendor resources for more information about
> the characteristics and removal techniques for the malicious file
> known as ExploreZip.
> Aladdin Knowledge Systems, Inc.
> Central Command
> Command Software Systems, Inc
> Computer Associates
> Data Fellows
> McAfee, Inc. (a Network Associates company)
> Network Associates Incorporated
> .asp
> Sophos, Incorporated
> Symantec
> l
> Trend Micro Incorporated
> Additional sources of virus information are listed at
> Additional suggestions
> * Blocking Netbios traffic at your network border may help prevent
> propagation via shares from outside your network perimeter.
> * Disable file serving on workstations. You will not be able to
> share your files with other computers, but you will be able to
> browse and get files from servers. This will prevent your
> workstation from being infected via file sharing propagation.
> * Maintain a regular, off-line, backup cycle.
> General protection from email Trojan horses and viruses
> Some previous examples of malicious files known to have propagated
> through electronic mail include
> * False upgrade to Internet Explorer - discussed in CA-99-02
> * Melissa macro virus - discussed in CA-99-04
> * Happy99.exe Trojan Horse - discussed in IN-99-02
> * CIH/Chernobyl virus - discussed in IN-99-03
> In each of the above cases, the effects of the malicious file are
> activated only when the file in question is executed. Social
> engineering is typically employed to trick a recipient into executing
> the malicious file. Some of the social engineering techniques we have
> seen used include
> * Making false claims that a file attachment contains a software
> patch or update
> * Implying or using entertaining content to entice a user into
> executing a malicious file
> * Using email delivery techniques which cause the message to appear
> to have come from a familiar or trusted source
> * Packaging malicious files in deceptively familiar ways (e.g., use
> of familiar but deceptive program icons or file names)
> The best advice with regard to malicious files is to avoid executing
> them in the first place. CERT advisory CA-99-02 discusses Trojan
> horses and offers suggestions to avoid them (please see Section V).
> This document is available from:
> CERT/CC Contact Information
> Email:
> 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
> 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
> To be added to our mailing list for advisories and bulletins, send
> email to and include SUBSCRIBE
> your-email-address in the subject of your message.
> Copyright 1999 Carnegie Mellon University.
> Conditions for use, disclaimers, and sponsorship information can be
> found in
> * "CERT" and "CERT Coordination Center" are registered in the U.S.
> Patent and Trademark Office
> 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.
> Revision History
> June 10, 1999: Initial release
> June 11, 1999: Added information about the appearance of the attached
> Added information from Aladdin Knowledge Systems, Inc.
> June 14, 1999: Added information about the program's self-propagation via
> networked shares; also updated anti-virus vendor URLs
> Version: 2.6.2
> iQCVAwUBN2TZfHVP+x0t4w7BAQF7HAP/c7MLHxFQ2M9XXK5qweZISimvGdsdr6cn
> rd+S+QKsVPxKX64LikccAW8pu7d38nqNcMUhWDCge0k4eZmKWrN5uh4/znCV8ETE
> 2pttxe4t0Slo8B9r2Es5LafIWInfZGuDRHRYIuWyrPe9ReEtUrKx52/1DSu7ZTO9
> esjkyG7T22o=
> =+n1t

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