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Recent Worms: A Survey and Trends

Darrell Kienzle, Matthew Elder
Proceedings of the 2003 ACM workshop on Rapid malcode Washington, DC, USA, pp.1-10
ISBN 1-58113-785-0

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In this paper, we present a broad overview of recent worm activity. Virus information repositories, such as the Network Associates' Virus Information Library, contain over 4500 different entries (through the first quarter of 2003). While many of these entries are interesting, a great number of them are now simply historical and a large percentage of them are completely derivative in nature. However, these virus information repositories are the best source of material on the breadth of malicious code, including worms.

This paper is meant to provide worm researchers with a high-level roadmap to the vast body of virus and worm information. After sifting through hundreds of entries, we present only those that we considered breakthrough or novel, primarily from a technical perspective. As a result, we found ourselves omitting some of the most notorious worms simply because they lacked any original aspects. It is our hope that others in the community who need to get up to speed in the worm literature can benefit from this survey. While this study does not contain any original research, it provides an overview of worms using a truly breadth-first approach, which has been lacking in the existing worm literature.

From this raw data, we have also extracted a number of broad quantitative and qualitative trends that we have found to be interesting. We believe that a workshop discussion of these, and other thoughts, will be engaging and informative.

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