Symantec spots odd malware designed to corrupt databases

The malware, concentrated in Iran, is specifically programmed to look for certain works written in Persian

Symantec had spotted another odd piece of malware that appears to be targeting Iran and is designed to meddle with SQL databases.

The company discovered the malware, called W32.Narilam, on Nov. 15 but on Friday published a more detailed writeup by Shunichi Imano. Narilam is rated as a "low risk" by the company, but according to a map, the majority of infections are concentrated in Iran, with a few in the U.K., the continental U.S. and the state of Alaska.

Interestingly, Narilam shares some similarities with Stuxnet, the malware targeted at Iran that disrupted its uranium refinement capabilities by interfering with industrial software that ran its centrifuges. Like Stuxnet, Narilam is also a worm, spreading through removable drives and network file shares, Imano wrote.

Once on a machine, it looks for Microsoft SQL databases. It then hunts for specific words in the SQL database -- some of which are in Persian, Iran's main language -- and replaces items in the database with random values or deletes certain fields.

Some of the words include "hesabjari," which means current account; "pasandaz," which means savings; and "asnad," which means financial bond, Imano wrote.

"The malware does not have any functionality to steal information from the infected system and appears to be programmed specifically to damage the data held within the targeted database," Imano wrote. "Given the types of objects that the threat searches for, the targeted databases seem to be related to ordering, accounting, or customer management systems belonging to corporations."

The types of databases sought by Narilam are unlikely to be employed by home users. But Narilam could be a headache for companies that use SQL databases but do not keep backups.

"The affected organization will likely suffer significant disruption and even financial loss while restoring the database," Imano wrote. "As the malware is aimed at sabotaging the affected database and does not make a copy of the original database first, those affected by this threat will have a long road to recovery ahead of them."

Stuxnet is widely believed to have been created by the U.S. and Israel with the intent of slowing down Iran's nuclear program. Since its discovery in June 2010, researchers have linked it to other malware including Duqu and Flame, indicating a long-running espionage and sabotage campaign that has prompted concern over escalating cyberconflict between nations.

Send news tips and comments to Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intrusionsymantecsecurityDesktop securityExploits / vulnerabilitiesdata protectionmalware

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jeremy Kirk

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place