Parent class: VirWare

Viruses and worms are malicious programs that self-replicate on computers or via computer networks without the user being aware; each subsequent copy of such malicious programs is also able to self-replicate. Malicious programs which spread via networks or infect remote machines when commanded to do so by the “owner” (e.g. Backdoors) or programs that create multiple copies that are unable to self-replicate are not part of the Viruses and Worms subclass. The main characteristic used to determine whether or not a program is classified as a separate behaviour within the Viruses and Worms subclass is how the program propagates (i.e. how the malicious program spreads copies of itself via local or network resources.) Most known worms are spread as files sent as email attachments, via a link to a web or FTP resource, via a link sent in an ICQ or IRC message, via P2P file sharing networks etc. Some worms spread as network packets; these directly penetrate the computer memory, and the worm code is then activated. Worms use the following techniques to penetrate remote computers and launch copies of themselves: social engineering (for example, an email message suggesting the user opens an attached file), exploiting network configuration errors (such as copying to a fully accessible disk), and exploiting loopholes in operating system and application security. Viruses can be divided in accordance with the method used to infect a computer:
  • file viruses
  • boot sector viruses
  • macro viruses
  • script viruses
Any program within this subclass can have additional Trojan functions. It should also be noted that many worms use more than one method in order to spread copies via networks.

Class: Virus

Viruses replicate on the resources of the local machine. Unlike worms, viruses do not use network services to propagate or penetrate other computers. A copy of a virus will reach remote computers only if the infected object is, for some reason unrelated to the virus function, activated on another computer. For example: when infecting accessible disks, a virus penetrates a file located on a network resource a virus copies itself to a removable storage device or infects a file on a removable device a user sends an email with an infected attachment.

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Platform: Win16

No platform description


Technical Details

This virus infects Windows EXE files (NewExe) and sends itself to Internet by using Eudora e-mail - it is the first known virus that infects Windows and spreads via Internet. To infect files the virus stays in Windows memory, it then infects NE-files that are executed. To infect Eudora e-mail the virus parses internal format of mail database and adds "infected" messages. The virus is able to spread to the Internet only if the Eudora e-mail system is installed on the computer, but recipients of infected messages may use any standard e-mail system, not only Eudora.

Of course, the virus is not able to run itself automatically from an infected message. It is not able to infect the system when an infected message is opened and read. To spread the virus, the infected EXE attachment has to be extracted and executed. To do exactly that (to extract and execute the attached file) the text of the message convinces the user.

The virus was not found in-the-wild, but being released it can appear as a real danger to the global computer network because to spread itself is uses the most popular OS (Windows) and one of most popular e-mail systems (Eudora).

The length of virus code and data is 4766 bytes. The virus was named after text strings present in virus body (they are encrypted in infected files):

<<-RED TEAM->> (C) The Soul Manager.
Made in Australia - 06.97.
So, so, Herr Kurtzhals - Is F/Win able to follow The Red Team?

Infecting EXE

While infecting NewEXE files the virus does not create new segment in there - it calculates the address of the code segment, moves the rest of file down and writes itself to that cave. The virus increases the size of the code segment and as a result stays as a part of legal program's code. The virus also fixes necessary fields in NE header and relocation tables. The virus then modifies initial address of entry point, or patches addresses of system routines in case of KRNL286/386.EXE.

When an infected file is executed under not infected environment, the virus takes control and looks for Win16 Kernel module (KRNL286.EXE or KRNL386.EXE). When this file is located, the virus opens and infects it. The virus does not alter entry point address, it changes addresses of WINEXEC or INITTASK routines instead. In case of Windows 3.xx the virus sets new address of WINEXEC routine, in case of Windows95/NT the virus do the same with INITTASK routine (because Windows95/NT do not call WINEXEC).

To separate KRNL?86.EXE modules (Windows 3.xx or Windows95/NT) the virus uses the name if exported CALLPROC32W function, it presents only in 32-bit Windows95/NT.

The virus then returns control to host program and does not perform any other actions. As a result being executed for the first time the virus does not leave any code in system memory - it only infects Windows' Kernel16 module.

Going memory resident

When Windows is loaded with infected Kernel, the virus stays in the system memory as a part of Kernel - no special action is necessary to do that because code of virus is placed in the same code segment as original Kernel's routines. The virus also does not perform any action to hook system events because they were already hooked while infection - address of WINEXEC or INITTASK already points to virus handler.

Under Windows 3.xx the virus hooks WINEXEC, so it infects files that are executed. The virus does that in quite clever way - it immediately passes control to original WINEXEC handler and then infects a file in background, i.e. there is no delay when application are executed under infected environment. That is quite important for the virus because usually Windows 3.xx is installed on old slow PC, and delays on execution may warn a user.

Under Windows95/NT the virus hooks INITTASK, so it intercepts control when programs are registering themselves in the system. The virus then with a help of GetExePtr function gets Module Handles for all NE-application that are active and infects them.

Infecting E-mail

While infecting a file with probability 1/8 (depending on the key that is used to encrypt text strings) the virus modifies its code so that this-time infected file will activate a routine that drops infected E-mail messages to Eudora outbox. When such file is executed in directory where Eudora databases are placed, the virus opens Eudora data files: NNDBASE.TOC, OUT.TOC, OUT.MBX. The first file ("Nick names database") is used by virus to get names of recipients to whom the virus will send an infected message. The infected message is placed to OUT.MBX (Outbox database) and necessary references are placed to OUT.TOC file.

The message itself has a subject "Red Team", contains the text and attached EXE file. The text looks as follows:

Just thought I'd warn you about a destructive new e-mail virus.
Here is some info:
> The "Red Team" virus is a complex new computer virus that spreads via
> the Microsoft Windows operating system, and Internet E-Mail. Although
> it is not the first virus to spread via E-Mail (that was "Good Times"),
> the Red Team virus is unparalelled in its destructive capabilities.
> Further more, the virus is exceedingly common - it has already been
> reported in much of western Europe, the USA, Russia, Australia, and
> Japan. In short, everywhere.
> We at QUEST, have spent several weeks analysing this virus, and are proud
> to anounce that we finally have a cure! The program, named "K-RTEAM"
> (Kill Red Team), can be executed in any Microsoft Windows environment, and
> will reliably detect (and remove if nescessary) the Red Team virus from
> your system buffers.
> --
> Julia Blumin
> QUALCOMM Enterprise Software Technologies
> World Wide Web:
The reason I thought I should warn you, is that we recently had a run in
with this beast.  Luckily we managed to get a copy of the excellent
'K-RTEAM' programme before the destruction really started. Just in case
you should suffer the same misfortune, I have included this programme for
you too.
P.S. Make sure you warn all your friends of this new threat!
This text in the virus body is compressed, so the virus decompresses it before saving to Eudora outbox. The attached EXE file has NE header and is named as K-RTEAM.EXE ("Kill Red Team"), it has 6351 bytes of length. It is an infected do-nothing program (the virus creates it on the C: drive - C:K-RTEAM.EXE) that only spreads the virus on computer. At the header and end of this file there are the text strings:
K-RTEAM - Red Team Anti-Virus
Red Team Virus Found!
Remove Virus?
Virus Removed!
Could not Remove Virus!
The virus does not send messages twice from the same infected computer. To do that the virus creates the RTBASE.TOC file while sending infected messages. Next time the virus will look for that file and terminate E-mail infection routine, if this file presents in directory.


The virus replicates itself under Windows 3.xx and had no side effects during experiments in lab - all files were infected correctly, the programs were not corrupted and Windows did not display any warning/error messages.

The virus also stored its dropper in the Eudora outbox with no problems. The infected messages then were sent via Internet and correctly received.

Under Windows95/NT the virus has a problem - it cannot infect KRNL386.EXE and as a result cannot install itself memory resident. The bug is quite stupid - the virus reserves Word (DW) for variable "NE Header Offset", but uses it as DoubleWord (DD). The second Word of that DoubleWord is Windows version flag: 0 if Windows3.xx, FFFFh if Windows95/NT. So under Windows95/NT the virus gets wrong value from that variable.

Despite this, the files that were infected under Windows 3.xx do work under Windows95/NT without any problem and may infect Eudora database as well as under Windows 3.xx. Moreover, that stupid bug may be easily fixed and a Windows95 compatible version might be released by the virus author.

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