Y2K, NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION CENTER INFORMATION SYSTEMADVISORY
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Wed Dec 29 16:51:04 MST 1999
NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION CENTER
INFORMATION SYSTEM ADVISORY (NIPC ADVISORY 99-031);
INFORMATION SYSTEM AND OVERALL Y2K INTERESTS
National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC ADVISORY 99-031)
Introduction Large-scale U.S. infrastructure disruptions are not expected
from "Y2K failures" during the Y2K transition period. However we are
prepared for a possible increase in real or reported criminal cyber activity
(such as hacking and spreading computer viruses), considering the heightened
awareness of and media focus on malicious activity during the Y2K period.
Any increased criminal activity during the Y2K period could raise the level
of problems in infrastructure systems, adding to genuine Y2K-generated
issues and the normal level of infrastructure concerns. We anticipate
encountering both known and new viruses and hacking exploits. We could see
the dissemination of several new and possibly destructive viruses, and the
successful exploitation of both corporate and government information
systems. But even these possibilities reflect only a larger assembly of the
same kinds of malicious activity seen and addressed every day.
Finally, known and possible extremist or apocalyptic terrorist activity in
the United States by individuals or groups suggests the possibility of
threats to domestic infrastructures. For example, the media have reported
arrests of certain individuals allegedly planning violent actions against
electric power and oil and gas facilities. These indications of possible
threats to our infrastructures warrant an increased vigilance to protect
against both cyber and physical threats to our nation's critical
The Y2K Transition might be seen by potential malefactors as an
unprecedented opportunity for malicious code release and associated
publicity, where a new and significant exploit can achieve a widespread
notoriety in the information security and hacker world. Viruses and
exploits like Melissa and its variants, ExploreZip, Back Orifice, mobile
code, etc. reflect increasing sophistication in the use of email and
attachments, increasing variation on prior exploits, and remote access and
control of malicious code. Additional virus activity can be expected during
the Y2K period, following the recent examples of W32.mypics, ICQ Greeting
Distributed denial of service tools have recently been discovered on various
computer systems, creating large networks of hosts capable of launching
significant coordinated packet flooding denial of service attacks.
These tools target high bandwidth sites and connections, use readily
accessible technical vulnerabilities for installation, and reflect
suspicious installation and tool development activity. Possible motives for
this deployment could include exploit demonstration, network systems
reconnaissance, or even preparation for major denial of service attacks.
Such attacks could take place during the Y2K period.
Back Orifice 2000 remains a significant open-source tool easily customized
for malicious purpose; we expect that its malicious use and adaptation will
continue to increase in the future, and could be applied during the Y2K
The installation of malicious code under cover of Y2K-remediation remains a
possibility, considering the numbers and scale of systems remediated for
Y2K, the significant access granted throughout computer systems and networks
for this work, and the clear, predictable window of opportunity to conduct
this action. Such code could be activated during the transition period or
long thereafter, to allow future access to the network or to deny service.
A number of long-known computer viruses continue to impact systems because
of inconsistent and incomplete security implementation and oversight. The
rising attention to computer virus activity during the Y2K transition period
will likely include "discovery" and publicity of old virus problems like
Marker and Melissa.
Harassing and malicious actions against Internet sites (such as those seen
by U.S. Government and military web sites, the WTO, commercial sites like
E-Bay and E-Toys, etc.) continues as an element of network systems activity;
these actions are increasingly common and could well be a part of the Y2K
transition and associated press coverage.
Finally, security measures taken in preparation for Y2K or as a result of
initial Y2K problems may cause unintended consequences. Systems may be shut
down to avert problems, only to cause a more serious operational impact than
remaining connected. For example, the closure of network connections could
generate a significant email backlog that might generate more problems when
re-connected than if connectivity were maintained throughout. Information
systems owners and operators must remain deliberate and logical in their
situational assessment, actions and management recommendations. Y2K is
primarily a higher volume, higher attention version of the types of problems
seen in normal network operations.
At this point there are four viruses that are of particular concern during
the Y2K transition. The first three of the viruses are Microsoft Word macro
viruses. These three viruses, in their current variants are not very
destructive; however, because macro viruses are so easily modified, there
may possibly be new variants with "trigger" dates during the Y2K transition
that may have destructive payloads. The last virus, PC CIH, is an older,
more common virus, but still very prevalent and has a very destructive
payload and could cause very severe damage to infected machines.
W97M/Marker is a macro virus that is spreading very rapidly and has a
disruptive payload. All variants of Marker steal some type of information
from infected machines and then covertly FTP the information to a specified
W97M/Class is a macro virus that infects documents and templates created in
Microsoft Word. Class is polymorphic, which means it is capable of mutating
its signature, thus making detection and removal more difficult. Class also
exhibits stealth characteristics, which further complicates detection and
removal. The Class virus has several "trigger" dates for execution of the
payload, the 31st or 14th of the month, depending on the variant. In
current versions the payload is not destructive.
W97M/Melissa is a relatively old virus, but is still a threat due to the
number of variants and the potential to cause a denial of service on mail
servers. Melissa spreads as an email message with an infected Microsoft
Word document as an attachment. Despite the age of the original Melissa
virus, the numerous variants of Melissa and their ability to spread
constitute a continued threat.
PC CIH was first seen in the summer of 1998, but is still spreading very
rapidly. PC CIH has a very destructive payload which will delete the first
megabyte of data on all hard drives available to the infected machine and
overwrite flash BIOS memory. The payload is triggered on different dates
depending on the variant which infected the machine. Typical trigger dates
are the 26th of any month.
Other viruses in the high-medium threat range, based on an NIPC evaluation,
PE PADANIA (Padania) Variants: joke, ne 230, 3932, a, b Type: Macro Risk:
High W97M PRILISSA.A (Prilissa) Type: Macro Risk: High - Medium Viruses in
the medium to low threat range:
W32.MyPics (MyPics) Type: Worm Risk: Medium Count2K (Y2Kcount) Type:
Trojan Risk: Medium W97M TRISTATE (TRISTATE) Variant: O97M, P97M, W97M Type:
Medium - Low W97.MELISSA.AD (Melissa AD) Type: Macro Risk: Medium - Low
Troj ICQGreeting (ICQ Greeting) Type: Trojan Risk: Medium - Low W97M/MMKV.A
(MMKV) Type: Macro Risk: Medium - Low W32/Fix (FIX) or (Trojan Fix2001)
Type: Win32 Risk: Medium - Low Viruses in the low to medium threat range:
Millenium v2.0 (Millenium2) Type: Trojan Risk: Low to Medium W97M/ETHAN
(Ethan) Variants: a, at, b, c, q, frome, mod, mrx Type:
Macro Risk: Low PE Babylonia (Babylonia) Type: Trojan Risk: Low to Medium
W32/ska (Happy New Year) Type: Win 32 Risk: Low W97M/Chantal (Chantal)
Type: Macro Risk: Low W97M/CLSTNT.B (CLSTNT.B)) Type: Macro Risk: Low
X97M/PIXLY (Pixly)) Type: Macro Risk: Low ATOMIC-1A (ATOMIC-1A) Type:Virus
Risk: Low ATOMIC-1B (ATOMIC-1B) Type:Virus Risk: Low ARCV-718 (ARCV) Type:
Virus Risk: Low CPW.1527 (CPW) Type: Virus Risk: Low DIOGENES (DIOGENES)
Type: Virus Risk: Low MINOSSE (MINOSSE) Type: Virus Risk: Low NULL (Null)
Type: Virus Risk: Low PE KRIZ (PE Kris) Type: Virus Status: Old Risk: Low
PRIME (Prime) Type: Virus Status: Old Risk: Low TOPO (TOPO) Type: Virus
Status: Old Risk: Low VBS Chrystal.C (Chrystal) Type: Virus Status: Old
Risk: Low W97M A OPEY (OPEY) Type: Virus Status: Old Risk: Low W97M
CALIGULA (CALIGULA) Type: Virus Status: Old Risk: Low Disclaimer: The
above lists are not comprehensive due to the sheer number of known viruses.
The virus evaluations are based on all information available to the NIPC at
the time of advisory preparation and are subject to change as new
information becomes available concerning new viruses and variants. In
particular, judgments made concerning risk are subjective and supersede
previously disseminated NIPC virus listings.
1. Get and stay informed about potential threats and possible solutions;
keep up to date by regularly reviewing Y2K breaking news from various
sources. Expect a certain degree of initial confusion and conflicting
2. Get yourself a good anti-virus package, easy to use and update, and able
to screen incoming messages for the fast-multiplying email viruses.
3. After installation, keep the signature files and scanning engine
updated. Hundreds of new viruses emerge each month, and the January 1st
transition may see a boom in new activity. Virus writers are constantly
inventing new ways of designing and distributing viruses, so your only
secure source of protection is to make sure that you update your signature
files regularly. In times of high threat, you may want to set your
anti-virus programs to automatically download new pattern files every day.
4. Getting and maintaining a good anti-virus package solves only some of
your security issues; viruses may still enter through your browser or macro
files. Configure your browser security to a higher level by disabling
ActiveX and Java controls in Internet Explorer and Netscape, and enable
macro protection in Excel and Word. If you find something suspected as a
virus and it has not been stopped by anti-virus software, report it and get
it checked immediately.
5. During the holiday season, you may also find your system clogged by spam
and electronic holiday cards. The added overhead in delivering and
filtering these messages may also strain your email servers and system RAM
and storage resources.
6. Make sure that the rest of your systems, servers and firewalls are
secure. Download the latest security patches and install them correctly. As
with the anti-virus protection, regularly check to make sure you have the
7. Understand your system's normal baseline operating parameters, so
differences are quickly spotted and investigated.
8. Prepare and implement (if necessary) realistic contingency plans.
9. Recipients are asked to report significant or suspected criminal
activity to their local FBI field office ANSIR or NIPC Coordinator, computer
emergency response support and other law enforcement agencies, as
This Awareness of National Security Issues and Response (ANSIR)
communication is intended for corporate security professionals and others
who have requested to receive unclassified national security advisories.
This communication is not a press release and should not be furnished to
those who are not direct recipients of ANSIR Program disseminations or
republished in any public format without authorization from the National
ANSIR Program at FBIHQ. Media requests should be directed to the local FBI
field office media representative.
The NIPC is a Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) initiative to deter, detect and respond to unlawful acts
involving computer intrusions and to other cyber and physical threats that
could adversely impact the critical infrastructures of the United States.
With interagency and private sector participation, the NIPC joins, leverages
and supports the jurisdictions, expertise and resources of the FBI, DOJ and
the United States Attorney offices throughout the nation and the
capabilities and resources provided by other federal government agencies,
state and local governments, and the private sector, in order to fulfill its
mission. The NIPC web site is http://www.nipc.gov.
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