Storm Worm remembered one year on

This week marks the first anniversary of the Storm Worm, widely recognised as one of the most disruptive and hard to irradiate examples of computer malware to be released in the past seven years.

It was the first large scale virus to be based on a peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, which allowed its bot network to be nearly invulnerable to shutdown attempts due to the exponential growth of its distribution.

The impact of the Storm Worm was fully realised on 19 January 2007, when it began to propagate among PC users in the UK, US and mainland Europe in volume. Distribution took place via email, usually containing a subject line relating to bad weather - "230 dead as storm batters Europe".

The worm, carried as an email attachment, installed the wincom32 service when clicked on, which in turn released a payload back out from the user's PC, passing on packets to IP addresses embedded within the malware itself.

In the first weekend of widespread distribution, the Storm Worm was responsible for around eight per cent of all global malware infestations, according to data from anti virus vendor Symantec at the time.

"The Storm malware shows no signs of slowing down as it nears its first anniversary on 19 January. Since its holiday run is over with Christmas and New Year now past, it's still gearing up to make its anniversary 'special" even if it has to use a holiday theme a month too early," Said JM Hipolito of anti virus company Trend Micro on the company's Trend Labs blog.

"This seems to be in keeping with how it marked the New Year, when the botnet was seen to send out New Year-themed messages on Christmas Day."

Since the first recorded outbreak of the Storm Worm, the malware has been adapted to keep it active, with infected emails changing their subject line to remain current, and to raise the chances of unsuspecting users clicking on the payload.

Subject lines used in the last 12 months include references to topical news events such as the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein, the rumoured death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Christmas greetings and most recently, fake news reports relating to the current US election campaigns.