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03/19/2004 Archived Entry: "PhatBot"

Monty Python, eh? One British audio clip deserves another.

Another nasty worm, PhatBot, is making the rounds. While some consider it a minor threat, it is polymorphic to evade virus scanners, and is capable of an amazing variety of attacks, defensive measures, and propagation vectors. I think it's a sign of viruses to come.

PhatBot is different from other viruses I've mentioned because it downloads code via P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing networks, unlike its predecessor which used IRC (Internet Relay Chat). From what I've read so far, PhatBot apparently uses P2P to communicate with its creator, not as an avenue of infection; but some other viruses spread through P2P.

I don't use P2P or IRC, so I don't know their vulnerabilities. I'll say this: if you're going onto a P2P network, use it only to download non-executable files (like music or images). Never accept an executable from an unknown source!

Of course, the Linux and Mac users can shrug off PhatBot. But I don't want to encourage complacency, so here are some links I've found for Linux and Mac security resources:

Disclaimer: I'm not a Mac user; I found these sites on a web search, and haven't explored them. I'll be curious to hear feedback from Mac owners. The Linux Security site does seem to be well regarded, at least judging from the number of other sites that link to it.

A reader, M.C., sends this helpful suggestion on backing up your Windows machine for quick restoration. I pass it on with thanks:

Here is my technique to save Windows. I use Symantec's Ghost to create an image of a HD partition and save it on a CD.

I then create a Windows boot disk with the CD-Rom driver (a Windows rescue disk is fine), copy the Ghost program and the mouse driver. With this, whenever I want to restore Windows, I just have to boot with this disk, insert the CD containing the image in the CD-ROM and restore the partition.

It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to restore completely Windows. Most of the time, I leave the image on the HD, on another partition.

Of course, if you want to use a CD, the image must be smaller than 700 Meg. Ghost allows you to split an image in part. The few times that I tried that thought, I had problems.

Anybody have any suggestions for Linux backup software?


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