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Home : Advisories : "WANK" Worm On SPAN Network

Title: "WANK" Worm On SPAN Network
Released by: CERT
Date: 7th October 1989
Printable version: Click here

Hash: SHA1


Last Revised: September 17, 1997

                Attached copyright statement

                                 CERT Advisory

                                October 17, 1989

                           "WANK" Worm On SPAN Network 

- -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

On 16 October, the CERT received word from SPAN network control that a

worm was attacking SPAN VAX/VMS  systems.  This worm affects only DEC

VMS systems and is  propagated via DECnet protocols,  not TCP/IP protocols.

If a VMS system had other network connections, the worm was not programmed

to take advantage of those connections.  The worm is very similar to last

year's  HI.COM  (or Father Christmas) worm.


This is NOT A PRANK.  Serious security holes are left open by this worm.

The worm takes advantage of poor password management, modifies .com files,

creates a new account, and spreads to other systems via DECnet.

It is also important to understand that someone in the future could launch

this worm on any DECnet based network.  Many copies of the virus have been

mailed around.  Anyone running a DECnet network should be warned.

R. Kevin Oberman from Lawrence Livermore National Labs reports:

     "This is a mean bug to kill and could have done a lot of damage.

     Since it notifies (by mail) someone of each successful penetration

     and leaves a trapdoor (the FIELD account), just killing the bug is

     not adequate.  You must go in an make sure all accounts have

     passwords and that the passwords are not the same as the account


The CERT/CC also suggests checking every .com file on the system.  The

worm appends code to .com files which will reopen a security hole everytime

the program is executed.


An analysis of the worm appears below and is provided by R. Kevin Oberman of 

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  Included with the analysis is a 

DCL program that will block the current version of the worm.  At least 

two versions of this worm exist and more may be created.  This program 

should give you enough time to close up obvious security holes.

If you have any technical questions or have an infected system, please

call the CERT/CC:


                          Report on the W.COM worm.

                               R. Kevin Oberman

                            Engineering Department

                    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

                               October 16, 1989

The following describes the action of the W.COM worm (currently based on the

examination of the first two incarnations). The replication technique causes

the code to be modified slightly which indicates the source of the attack and

learned information.

All analysis was done with more haste than I care for, but I believe I have all

of the basic facts correct.

First a description of the program:

1. The program assures that it is working in a directory to which the owner

(itself) has full access (Read, Write,Execute, and Delete).

2. The program checks to see if another copy is still running. It looks for a

process with the first 5 characters of "NETW_". If such is found, it deletes

itself (the file) and stops its process.


A quick check for infection is to look for a process name starting with

"NETW_". This may be done with a SHOW PROCESS command.

3. The program then changes the default DECNET account password to a random

string of at least 12 characters.

4. Information on the password used to access the system is mailed to the user

GEMPAK on SPAN node 6.59. Some versions may have a different address.

5. The process changes its name to "NETW_" followed by a random number.

6. It then checks to see if it has SYSNAM priv. If so, it defines the system

announcement message to be the banner in the program:

      W O R M S    A G A I N S T    N U C L E A R    K I L L E R S


    \__  ____________  _____    ________    ____  ____   __  _____/

     \ \ \    /\    / /    / /\ \       | \ \  | |    | | / /    /

      \ \ \  /  \  / /    / /__\ \      | |\ \ | |    | |/ /    /

       \ \ \/ /\ \/ /    / ______ \     | | \ \| |    | |\ \   /

        \_\  /__\  /____/ /______\ \____| |__\ | |____| |_\ \_/


          \                                                 /

           \    Your System Has Been Officically WANKed    /


     You talk of times of peace for all, and then prepare for war.

7. If it has SYSPRV, it disables mail to the SYSTEM account.

8. If it has SYSPRV, it modifies the system login command procedure to 

APPEAR to delete all of a user's file. (It really does nothing.)

9. The program then scans the accounts logical name table for command

procedures and tries to modify the FIELD account to a known password

with login form any source and all privs. This is a primitive virus,

but very effective IF it should get into a privileged account.

10. It proceeds to attempt to access other systems by picking node numbers at

random. It then used PHONE to get a list of active users on the remote system.

It proceeds to irritate them by using PHONE to ring them.

11. The program then tries to access the RIGHTSLIST file and attempts

to access some remote system using the users found and a list of

"standard" users included with the worm. It looks for passwords

which are the same as that of the account or are blank. It records all

such accounts.

12. It looks for an account that has access to SYSUAF.DAT.

13. If a priv. account is found, the program is copied to that account and

started. If no priv account was found, it is copied to other accounts found on

the random system.

14. As soon as it finishes with a system, it picks another random system and

repeats (forever).


1. The following program will block the worm. Extract the following code

and execute it. It will use minimal resources. It create a process named

NETW_BLOCK which will prevent the worm from running.

- -------

Editors note:  This fix will work only with this version of the worm.  

Mutated worms will require modification of this code; however, this 

program should prevent the worm from running long enough to secure 

your system from the worms attacks.

- -------


$ Set Default SYS$MANAGER




$ Set Process/Name=NETW_BLOCK

$ Wait 12:0

$ GoTo loop


$ Run/Input=SYS$MANAGER:BLOCK_WORM.COM/Error=NL:/Output=NL:/UIC=[1,4] -



- -------

Editors note:  This fix might only work if the worm is running as SYSTEM.

An earlier post made by the CERT/CC suggested the following:

        $ Run SYS$SYSTEM:NCP

        Clear Object Task All


You must then edit the file SYS$MANAGER:STARTNET.COM, and add the line


AFTER the line which says


This has the side-effect of disabling users from executing any command

procedure via DECnet that the system manager has not defined in the

DECnet permanent database.

- ---------

2. Enable security auditing. The following command turns on the MINIMUM

alarms. The log is very useful in detecting the effects of the virus left by

the worm. It will catch the viruses modification of the UAF.

$ Set Audit/Alarm/Enable=(ACL,Authorization,Breakin=All,Logfailure=All)

3. Check for any account with NETWORK access available for blank passwords or

passwords that are the same as the username. Change them!

4. If you are running VMS V5.x, get a copy of SYS$UPDATE:NETCONFIG_UPDATE.COM

from any V5.2 system and run it. If you are running V4.x, change the username

and password for the network object "FAL".

5. If you have been infected, it will be VERY obvious. Start checking the

system for modifications to the FIELD account. Also, start scanning the system

for the virus. Any file modified will contain the following line:

$ oldsyso=f$trnlnm("SYS$OUTPUT")

It may be in LOTS of command procedures. Until all copies of the virus are

eliminated, the FIELD account may be changed again.

6. Once you are sure all of the holes are plugged, you might kill off

NETW_BLOCK. (And then again, maybe not.)


Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Software Engineering Institute

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

Internet: cert@cert.org

Telephone: 412-268-7090 24-hour hotline: CERT personnel answer

           7:30a.m.-6:00p.m. EST, on call for

           emergencies other hours.

Past advisories and other information are available for anonymous ftp

from cert.org (

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright 1989 Carnegie Mellon University. Conditions for use, disclaimers,

and sponsorship information can be found in

http://www.cert.org/legal_stuff.html and http://ftp.cert.org/pub/legal_stuff .

If you do not have FTP or web access, send mail to cert@cert.org with

"copyright" in the subject line.

CERT is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Revision History

September 17,1997  Attached Copyright Statement


Version: PGP for Personal Privacy 5.0

Charset: noconv





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