Extremely aggressive worm chokes instant messaging

New variant of Palevo blasts unprotected systems via fake photo gallery links.

The latest offspring of the Palevo family has begun spreading these days via a massive wave of automatically generated IM spam. The unsolicited message incites the recipients to click a link accompanied by a grinning smiley face, which purportedly leads them to an image or photo gallery.

Palevo worm via IM

Figure 1 – The unsolicited IM spam that brings Palevo

Instead of opening the alleged image collection, the users are tricked into saving what seems to be a .JPG file, which is, in effect, an executable concealing the malicious payload – Worm.P2P.Palevo.DP.

Palevo worm via IM img 2

Figure 2 – The apparent .JPG is an .EXE file delivering the worm

Having an unprotected system infected with Palevo.DP is a synonym for mayhem. First and foremost, the worm creates several hidden files in the Windows folder: mds.sys, mdt.sys, winbrd.jpg, infocard.exe and modifies some registry keys to point towards these files in order annihilate the OS’ firewall.

As its siblings, Palevo.DP holds a backdoor component, which allows remote attackers to seize control over the compromised computer and do whatever they want with it – from installing additional malware and swiping files to launching spam campaigns and malware offensive on other systems.

Palevo family is also able to intercept passwords and other sensitive data entered in Mozilla® Firefox® and Microsoft® Internet Explorer® Web browsers, which makes it extremely risky to users relying on e-banking or on-line shopping services.

The spreading mechanism also comprises the infection of network shares and removable USB storage devices, where it creates autorun.inf files pointing to its copy. When the removable disk or memory stick is inserted into machines with the Autorun feature enabled or unprotected by a security solution with on-access scanning capability, the system is automatically infected.

Palevo worms also affect users of the P2P sharing platforms, such as Ares, BearShare, iMesh, Shareza, Kazaa, DC++, eMule and LimeWire, by adding their code to the shared files.

We recommend users to be extremely cautious and not to click any suspicious links they receive via IM clients before checking with their senders the validity of the Web sites towards which these links point. This Palevo offensive is highly aggressive and during the very beginning of the outbreak we have witnessed rates of infection which easily exceeded 500 percent per hour for countries like Romania, Mongolia or Indonesia

The information in this article is available courtesy of Bogdan Timofte, BitDefender Threats Researcher.

All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

About the author


With a humanities passion and background (BA and MA in Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest) - complemented by an avid interest for the IT world and its stunning evolution, I joined in the autumn of 2003 the chief editors' team from Niculescu Publishing House, as IT&C Chief Editor, where (among many other things) I coordinated the Romanian version of the well-known SAMS Teach Yourself in 24 Hours series. In 2005 I accepted two new challenges and became Junior Lecturer at the Faculty of Letters (to quote U2 - "A Sort of Homecoming") and Lead Technical Writer at BluePhoenix Solutions.

After leaving from BluePhoenix in 2008, I rediscovered "all that technical jazz" with the E-Threat Analysis and Communication Team at BitDefender, the creator of one of the industry's fastest and most effective lines of internationally certified security software. Here I produce a wide range of IT&C security-related content, from malware, spam and phishing alerts to technical whitepapers and press releases. Every now and then, I enjoy scrutinizing the convolutions of e-criminals' "not-so-beautiful mind" and, in counterpart, the new defensive trends throughout posts on

Balancing the keen and until late in night (please read "early morning") reading (fiction and comparative literature studies mostly) with Internet "addiction", the genuine zeal for my bright and fervid students with the craze for the latest discoveries in science and technology, I also enjoy taking not very usual pictures (I'm not a pro, but if you want to see the world through my lenses, here are some samples, messing around with DTP programs to put out some nifty book layouts and wacky t-shirts, roaming the world (I can hardly wait to come back in the Big Apple), and last but not least, driving my small Korean car throughout the intricacies of our metropolis's traffic.


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