Smallpot: Tracking the Slapper and Scalper Unix Worms

Wednesday, 5 February 2003, 12:59 PM EST

Fueled by the old myth that "you can't get a virus in Unix" and by the increasing popularity of Linux and FreeBSD, Unix viruses passed an important milestone in 2001 and continued by receiving even more attention during 2002.

It all begun with the Ramen worm, then continued with Adore, Lion, Cheese, RST.B and many, many more. Some of them even became widespread, culminating with the inclusion of OSF.8759 in the May 2002 Wildlist.

Unfortunately, while there are lots of charts and distribution statistics available for Win32 viruses, the same cannot be said about Unix viruses. Actually, at the time of writing, there is no reliable (and constantly updated) source of information regarding the distribution of Linux/FreeBSD malware, not to mention other Unix flavors which are less appealing to virus writers.

Given the relative lack of information from this point of view, it would be very interesting to compare the spreading of Linux and FreeBSD malware with their Win32 counterparts as a means of evaluating the security and "virus-proofness" of these platforms. Such data may also help to develop a model for predicting the spreading of future Unix malware.

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