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Microsoft Windows (all versions)
Week of July 25, 2001
CERT Advisory CA-2001-22 W32/Sircam Malicious Code
Original release date: July 25, 2001
Last revised: --
A complete revision history can be found at the end of this file.
* Microsoft Windows (all versions)
'W32/Sircam' is malicious code that spreads through email and
potentially through unprotected network shares. Once the malicious
code has been executed on a system, it may reveal or delete sensitive
As of 10:00EST(GMT-4) Jul 25, 2001 the CERT/CC has received reports of
W32/Sircam from over 300 individual sites.
W32/Sircam can infect a machine in one of two ways:
* When executed by opening an email attachment containing the
* By copying itself into unprotected network shares
Propagation Via Email
The virus can appear in an email message written in either English or
Spanish with a seemingly random subject line. All known versions of
W32/Sircam use the following format in the body of the message:
Hi! How are you?
See you later. Thanks
Hola como estas ?
Nos vemos pronto, gracias.
Where [middle line] is one of the following:
I send you this file in order to have your advice
I hope you like the file that I sendo you
I hope you can help me with this file that I send
This is the file with the information you ask for
Te mando este archivo para que me des tu punto de vista
Espero te guste este archivo que te mando
Espero me puedas ayudar con el archivo que te mando
Este es el archivo con la informacion que me pediste
Users who receive copies of the malicious code through electronic mail
might recognize the sender. We encourage users to avoid opening
attachments received through electronic mail, regardless of the
sender's name, without prior knowledge of the origin of the file or a
valid digital signature.
The email message will contain an attachment whose name matches the
subject line and has a double file extension (e.g. subject.ZIP.BAT or
subject.DOC.EXE). The CERT/CC has confirmed reports that the first
extension may be .DOC, .XLS, or .ZIP. Anti-virus vendors have referred
to additional extensions, including .GIF, .JPG, .JPEG, .MPEG, .MOV,
.MPG, .PDF, .PNG, and .PS. The second extension will be .EXE, .COM,
.BAT, .PIF, or .LNK. The attached file contains both the malicious
code and the contents of a file copied from an infected system.
When the attachment is opened, the copied file is extracted to both
the %TEMP% folder (usually C:\WINDOWS\TEMP) and the Recycled folder on
the affected system. The original file is then opened using the
appropriate default viewer while the infection process continues in
It is possible for the recipient to be tricked into opening this
malicious attachment since the file will appear without the .EXE,
.BAT, .COM, .LNK, or .PIF extensions if the 'Hide file extensions for
known file types' is enabled in Windows. See IN-2000-07 for additional
information on the exploitation of hidden file extensions.
W32/Sircam includes its own SMTP client capabilities, which it uses to
propagate via email. It determines its recipient list by recursively
searching for email addresses contained in all *.wab (Windows Address
Book) files in the %SYSTEM% folder. Additionally, it searches the
folders referred to by
for files containing email addresses. All addresses found are stored
in SC??.DLL or S??.DLL files hidden in the %SYSTEM% folder.
W32/Sircam first attempts to send messages using the default email
settings for the current user. If the default settings are not
present, it appears to use one of the following SMTP relays:
* NetBIOS name for 'MAIL'
* mail. (e.g., mail.example.org)
Propagation Via Network Shares
In addition to email-based propagation, analysis by anti-virus vendors
suggests that W32/Sircam can spread through unprotected network
shares. Unlike the email propagation method, which requires a user to
open an attachment to infect the machine, propagation of W32/Sircam
via network shares requires no human intervention.
If W32/Sircam detects Windows networking shares with write access, it
1. copies itself to \\[share]\Recycled\SirC32.EXE
2. appends '@ win\Recycled\SirC32.exe' to AUTOEXEC.BAT
If the share contains a Windows folder, it also
3. copies \\[share]\Windows\rundll32.exe to
4. copies itself to \\[share]\Windows\rundll32.exe
5. when virus is executed from rundll32.exe, it calls run32.exe
1. When installed on a victim machine, W32/Sircam installs a copy of
itself in two hidden files:
Installing in Recycled may hide it from anti-virus software since
some do not check this folder by default.
Based on external analyses, there is also a probability that
W32/Sircam will copy itself to the %SYSTEM% folder as ScMx32.exe.
In that case, another copy is created in the folder referred to by
er\Shell Folders\Startup (the current user's personal startup
folder). The copy created in that location is named Microsoft
Internet Office.exe. When the affected user next logs in, this
copy of W32/Sircam will be started automatically.
2. The registry entry
rvices\Driver32 is set to %SYSTEM%\SCam32.exe so that W32/Sircam
will run automatically at system startup.
3. The registry entry HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command is
set to 'C:\Recycled\SirC32.exe' '%1' %*', causing W32/Sircam to
execute whenever another executable is run.
4. A new registry entry, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\SirCam, is
created to store data required by W32/Sircam during execution.
5. W32/Sircam searches for filenames with .DOC, .XLS, .ZIP extensions
in the folders referred to by
While the personal folder may vary with configuration, it is often
set to \My Documents or \Windows\Profiles\%username%\Personal. A
list of these files is stored in %SYSTEM%\scd.dll.
6. W32/Sircam attaches its own binary to selected files it finds and
stores the combined file in the Recycled folder.
W32/Sircam can have a direct impact on both the computer which was
infected as well as those with which it communicates over email.
* Breaches of confidentiality: The malicious code will at a minimum
search through select folders and mail potentially sensitive
files. This form of attack is extremely serious since it is one
from which it is impossible to recover. Once a file has been
publicly distributed, any potentially sensitive information in it
cannot be retracted.
* Limit Availibility (Denial of Service)
+ Fill entire hard drive: Based on external analyses, on any
given day, there is a probability that it will create a file
named C:\Recycled\sircam.sys which consumes all free space on
the C: drive. A full disk will prevent users from saving
files to that drive, and in certain configurations impede
system-level tasks (e.g., swapping, printing).
+ Propagation via mass emailing: W32/Sircam will attempt to
propagate by sending itself through email to addresses
obtained as described above. This propagation can lead to
congestion in mail servers that may prevent them from
functioning as expected.
NOTE: Since W32/Sircam uses native SMTP routines connecting
to pre-defined mail servers, propagation is independent of
the mail client software used.
* Loss of Integrity: Published reports indicate that on October 16
there is a reasonable probability that W32/Sircam will attempt to
recursively delete all files from the drive on which Windows is
installed (typically C:).
Run and Maintain an Anti-Virus Product
It is important for users to update their anti-virus software. Most
anti-virus software vendors have released updated information, tools,
or virus databases to help detect and partially recover from this
malicious code. A list of vendor-specific anti-virus information can
be found in Appendix A.
Many anti-virus packages support automatic updates of virus
definitions. We recommend using these automatic updates when
Exercise Caution When Opening Attachments
Exercise caution when receiving email with attachments. Users should
never open attachments from an untrusted origin, or ones that appear
suspicious in any way. Finally, cryptographic checksums should also be
used to validate the integrity of the file.
The effects of this class of malicious code are activated only when
the file in question is executed. Social engineering is typically
employed to trick a recipient into executing the malicious file. The
best advice with regard to malicious files is to avoid executing them
in the first place. The following tech tip offers suggestions as to
how to avoid them:
Protecting yourself from Email-borne Viruses and Other
Malicious Code During Y2K and Beyond
Filter the Email or use a Firewall
Sites can use email filtering techniques to delete messages containing
subject lines known to contain the malicious code, or they can filter
Likewise, a firewall or border router can be used to stop the
W32/Sircam outbound SMTP connections to mail servers outside of the
local network. This filtering strategy will prevent further
propagation of the worm from a particular host when the local mail
configuration is not used.
Appendix A. - Vendor Information
Aladdin Knowledge Systems
Central Command, Inc.
Command Software Systems
Data Fellows Corp
Norman Data Defense Systems
You may wish to visit the CERT/CC's Computer Virus Resources Page
Authors: Roman Danyliw, Chad Dougherty, Allen Householder
This document is available from:
CERT/CC Contact Information
Phone: +1 412-268-7090 (24-hour hotline)
Fax: +1 412-268-6989
CERT Coordination Center
Software Engineering Institute
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890
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Monday through Friday; they are on call for emergencies during other
hours, on U.S. holidays, and on weekends.
We strongly urge you to encrypt sensitive information sent by email.
Our public PGP key is available from
If you prefer to use DES, please call the CERT hotline for more
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Copyright 2001 Carnegie Mellon University.
July 25, 2001: Initial release