Windows Sasser worm mutates, knocks out banks, EC; Macintosh unaffected

Security experts are analyzing the worm to determine where Windows worm Sasser might hit next.

“‘We don’t know yet, for example, if it attacks machines running on Windows XP Embedded, which runs ATM machines and cash registers. That would be disastrous for banks and retailers,’ said Raimund Genes, European president of security software firm Trend Micro,” Bernhard Warner reports for Reuters.

“In the space of three days, four variants have emerged, each capable of causing machines that run on Microsoft’s Windows operating systems XP, NT and 2000 to reboot without warning and knocking out some computer reservation systems. Victims include Goldman Sachs, Australia’s Westpac Bank and Finnish financial company Sampo. It has also hit about 300,000 computers at Germany’s Deutsche Post,” Warner reports.

“Staff were temporarily unable to issue cash over the counter as a result, German media reported, while a European Commission spokesman said Sasser hit 1,200 PCs Monday. ‘We had big problems yesterday,’ the EC spokesman said,” Warner reports. Full article here.

BBC News reports, “Taiwan’s national post office said 1,600 of its machines were hit by the virus which forced more than 400 of its 1200 branch offices to revert to pen and paper. The disruption left customers queuing in long lines at many of the company’s offices, according to television reports. Two Hong Kong government departments and some hospitals on the island were hit by the virus. In Australia Railcorp trains were halted apparently because a virus disrupted the radio systems and stopped drivers talking to signalmen. Also in Australia Westpac Bank staff were forced to use manual methods to record transactions as the virus made computers unusable. Two other banks reported infections. Finnish bancassurer Sampo said it had temporarily closed all its 130 branch offices as a precaution against Sasser. US airline Delta would not comment on reports that the virus caused disruption to its schedule.”

MacDailyNews Take: Computers running Apple’s Mac OS X are not affected by the Sasser worm. More information about how easy it is to add a Mac OS X machine to your computing arsenal here.

54 Comments

  1. hmm.. maybe someone should tell these big companies that the Mac and OS X is unaffected. Also, they hsould ask how much money they lose/spend dealing with Microsoft security related issues compared with the cost of moving to Linux/Mac. To be honest most big companies have already looked at the cost of moving to Linux – it’s just software/OS rather than new hardware as well. But the same companies who realise it’s cheap to change over but the desktop software isn’t mature enough. I think if they’re prepared to look at Linux, they should be prepared to look at OS X as well – even though it’s a more expensive proposition to change over the hardware as well, the support costs should be much less in the long run.

  2. Come on Apple! Start advertising!

    Seriously, this could be the turning point methinks… only someone who liked pain would use M$ these days.

  3. I think businesses wouldn’t take either the eMac or iMac seriously based on their looks. We all know these are excellent computers and fine for most companies using email, web, Word and Excel. Apple needs some sort of base tower to see to businesses.

  4. i’m not sure that it would be a good idea for apple to go large, since you never know how apple will be when people start writing large amounts of viruses for it, microsofts had this problem for years apple didn’t, so it’s hard to say if apple would be virus free or secure.

  5. artiom,

    FACT: Windows is insecure because it is poorly designed
    FACT: OS X is secure because it is built on UNIX, a well designed, secure OS

    Example: Volvo or Lada? Same thing but very different. They’re both cars, but the Lada is a death trap, the Volvo is a tank.

    Windows is the Lada, OS X is the Volvo!

  6. I absolutely agree with twelveightyone and Xirt… one thing that would really be a market push for Apple is “IT insurance”; imagine if insurers sold coverage to compensate industry for the any losses due to software bugs/viruses/worms etc. The premiums for M$ customers would be enormous compared with OS X.

    In the short run companies would be covered against the “M$ Tax”, but in the long run they’d finally see the light and realize the cost savings to switching to alternatives.

  7. I went to pick up a package at Airborne Express yesterday and was told that their computers were out and they were using pen and paper.

    With Windows, you never know when you’ll be transported back to the 1970’s.

  8. Artiom: Despite twelveeightyone’s stupid analogy (windows is more secure than a lada) It is true that OSX is more secure thanks to the design of UNIX…which has been around for over 20 years.

    It’s open architecture allows you to see that, and also every program has to have permission to run, including potential viruses. Thought there may be a virus in OSX’s future, it couldn’t do much damage.

  9. But dony u think that the more popular apple is the more viruses there will be since there are planty of bright people out in the world without a job that dont have anything better to do then to wrire viruses? People that can program in the machine language, will be able o do anything at all, including hackin windows, apple or linux.

  10. artiom,

    Most hackers deliberately target Windows because it is Microsoft and because it is easy. Granted, if OS X became more popular people might try to create viruses for it, but most hackers use and like UNIX and it’d be like shitting in your own back yard, so to speak.

    UNIX has been around for ages and has had most of its holes closed and locked down. It’d be very, very hard to get a virus that could do serious damage to a machine, but maybe a bit easier to create a virus for OS X that could damage a Users account.

    Shabaz, my analogy is light-hearted ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> but it’s true.

  11. Artiom,

    Even coding in machine language requires a way to get that code running, and OS X won’t allow that. You can’t just write a program that lands on your machine and executes itself. It still has to execute in the confines of your operating system.

    I am sure that many have tried to create a virus for Mac OS X. Some may have even succeeded in creating something that will wreak havoc on your machine if you allow it. The thing is that it needs permission to run. Not just a simple “OK”, but an actual entering of an Admin password. And while I’m sure that there are people out there that would enter their Admin password when something from an attachment asks them to, most probably wouldn’t.

  12. OK all of them are good points.
    What about that serice pack 2 for xp and comin uo longhorn, are they going to be more secure or they will have as many problems as xp or even more?
    Would it be possible to say that through trial and improvement windows will be secure or people will always be hacking it?

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