Can I get a worm or virus through instant messenger?
I do not click on to any URL's in instant messenger and just IM with friends. If I get one can it spread into my computer?
- no. not unless they send you a URL and you go to it01
- Instant messengers can also provide an access point for backdoor trojan horses. Hackers can use instant messaging to gain backdoor access to computers without opening a listening port, effectively bypassing desktop and perimeter firewall implementations. Furthermore, finding victims doesn’t require scanning unknown IP addresses, but rather simply selecting from an updated directory of buddy lists. In addition to client-initiated file transfers, all the major instant messaging networks support peer-to-peer file sharing where one can share a directory or drive. This means that all the files on a computer can be shared using the instant messaging client, leading to the spread of files that are infected with a virus or other malware. As we shall see, this characteristic also makes information being communicated along IM vulnerable to unauthorized viewing.
In the case of instant messaging, however, antivirus software does not currently monitor traffic at the gateway level. If a worm starts to spread using instant messaging, it cannot be stopped before it reached the user’s computer.
The number of instant messaging worms is rising steadily. This is made clear when one considers the list of recent IM worms:
W32.Choke (June 6, 2001)
W95.SoFunny.Worm@m (July 3, 2001)
W32.Goner.A@mm (Dec. 4, 2001)
W32.Led@mm (January 22, 2002)
W32.Seesix.Worm(May 15, 2002)
Despite the growing threat, there are still no antivirus applications that directly monitor instant messaging traffic on a server level. This is due to the difficulty in finding Instant Messaging traffic, as it is often embedded inside HTTP packets. However, a few antivirus applications plug in to instant messaging clients, scanning files as they are received. The lack of applications scanning instant messaging network traffic is partly due to the difficulty in monitoring instant messaging traffic, as well as the constant modifications to the clients and the protocols they use. Unfortunately, this makes instant messengers an open door to the computer, as unscanned traffic will bypass most server-based security measures. Only the antivirus product running at the desktop level can catch the worms.
The way in which these worms replicate varies. Some of the worms spread via email as well as instant messaging. Others spread only via instant messaging. However, currently instant messaging worms all still require user interaction for execution. None make use of an exploit to allow auto-execution upon receipt. Therefore, if instant messaging users are more aware of the threats and how to prevent them, the success of these worms would be significantly reduced.00
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