An Instant Messaging worm is a malicious piece of malware that spreads over the IM network. It is a self-replicating code that spreads by exploiting the loopholes in the instant messaging network.
Over the years, the Instant Messaging Worm has grown at an insane rate and has become more complex in nature.
It aims at infecting a user’s account, plagues the contact list and then uses it to spread itself to the available contacts. It then sends out legitimate looking messages to the people in your contact list. The messages are embedded with harmful links that can redirect you to suspicious websites or infected ads offering discount coupons or deals. Several social engineering techniques are used to trick users into opening the infected message.
The IM worm was first detected in 2001 and was considered harmless until 2006. In 2006 an malicious WMF file known as xmas-2006 FUNNY.jpg was used to spread malware using MSN messenger in the Netherlands. Similar worms were also spread using other instant messaging platforms like Yahoo!, AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ etc.
Popular Examples of IM worms:
- Sumom: Although the damage caused by this malicious worm was not extensive it gained a lot of popularity in the cyber world.
- Choke Worm: This one exploited MSN Messenger. It used the contact list of the infected host to send numerous messages along with a download link. The download link was nothing but a work file itself.
- SoFunny: SoFunny attaches itself to AOL instant messenger to carry out its harmful activities.
- Kelvir and Bropia are few other examples of IM worms.
How To Protect Yourserlf Against Instant Messaging Worms | Prevention Tips
Computer worms are malicious programs that can result in a compromised device. To safeguard your computer from worms and other PC threats follow these prevention steps.
- System vulnerabilities isone of the major causes behind the rapid spread of malware including IM worms. It is crucial to update your computer and other applications on a regular basis. Installing the latest operating system updates cab patch your device for all existing security loopholes.
- Phishing and Smishing are common techniques used to spread IM worms and other types of malware. We suggest you be extra cautious while opening emails and messages from unknown sources. And avoid clicking on the attachments and like as they lead you to third party infected websites.
- With cyber crime increasing at a skyrocketing rate, investing in a power-packed and strong security suite is a must. Use an efficient anti-malware program to protect your device against worms, viruses, ransomware and other lethal threats.
Your security is in your hands, be fully aware of your actions. Follow basic computing hygiene to stay protected from malicious attacks.