Watch out for Storm, the most powerful computer virus in years
By chienr on Oct 30, 2007
There is a computer virus dubbed "Storm" that is quietly infecting computers running Microsoft Windows. It is mostly spread using Email in form of an e-card or PDF attachment but can also come to any unsuspecting victim as YouTube or blog links. No one knows exactly how many computers have been infected, but security experts are putting the estimate anywhere from a conservative one million to 50 millions.
Here's a video that illustrates Storm's infection rate and reach in a 24-hour window:
Once a computer is compromised, it becomes part of a botnet and is assigned one of three tasks: the vast majority lays dormant and waits for further instructions, a small percentage becomes carrier and spreads the virus further, and a selected few becomes control centers. Unlike previous botnets that are typically based on client-server model, Storm uses a peer-to-peer architecture such that it cannot be taken down by shutting down the core server. Many articles and technical analysis have been written about it yet Storm remains largely unknown to most because it is designed to "fly under the radar." Without public awareness, more machines are vulnerable to Storm because their owners haven't bothered to patch them.
Alledgely, Storm is masterminded by the Russian Mafia whose goal is to create the largest botnet ever seen. Effectively, it is a massive global compute grid, and the bad guys have control over it and they can do anything they want with it. If the botnet is 50 million strong it'll possess more processing power than the most powerful supercomputer. With that much CPU and bandwidth at their fingertips, they could rent it to other bad guys or use it to run a digital extortion scheme through threat of denial-of-service attacks from the biggest botnet to those who refuses to pay the ransom.