SQL database wrecker hits Iranian businesses

Symantec is warning businesses to backup their SQL databases after discovering a worm spreading amongst Iranian businesses that wipes key financial and sales data.

The “Narilam” worm, designed to destroy business data in Microsoft SQL databases, has hit a large number of Symantec’s Iranian business customers, the vendor said on Wednesday.

“Unless appropriate backups are in place, the affected database will be difficult to restore,” it reported on its Connect blog.

“The affected organisation will likely suffer significant disruption and even financial loss while restoring the database. 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.”

Symantec released an update for the threat on November 15. The worm spreads like any other, but is unique in that it modifies SQL databases that are accessible by a Microsoft designed API called OLE DB or “Object Linking and Embedding, Database”.

The malware appears designed to disrupt targets and does not contain any features to steal information.

Narilam is also aimed squarely at critical corporate data, seeking out and then wiping object and table names and database items with the Persian terms for “current account”, “financial bond”, “savings”, “account” and “installment loans”.

Symantec has detected some victims in the US and the UK, but the bulk of infections have occurred in Iran and specifically aim for databases named “alim”, “maliran” and “shahd”.

“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,” Symantec notes on its Connect blog.

Iran has been the target of a number of sophisticated malware threats in recent years, including information stealers, Flame and Mahdi, and Stuxnet, designed to destroy industrial control systems.

The latest known victim of the Flame malware is the French Government, which was reportedly hit by the malware in May -- the month Kaspersky Labs discovered the spying malware and weeks before Microsoft revoked several digital certificates that were used to sign components of the malware as trusted.

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