Helkern / SQL Worm – The Fastest Ever

The “Helkern” worm is confirmed to be by far the fasted spreading computer virus ever.

When we think of “fast” our minds churn out images of great sprinters like Jesse Owens and Florence Griffith Joyner or racecar drivers such as Jackie Stewart or Michael Shumacher. Also coming to mind are the speed of sound and light and the mind boggling pace at which time passes on our lunch breaks. Now, here to join these icons of speed is “Helkern”, the worm virus that two weeks ago spread so rapidly that it has forever altered the way we are permitted to view the virus threat.

In just ten minutes, approximately the same amount of time between each alarm clock “snooze”, Helkern (aka Slammer, aka Sapphire) screamed around the globe, leaving a trail of havoc in its wake. In the first minute of the Helkern outbreak, the worm doubled its number every 8.5 seconds, reports the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA). To fully appreciate this statistic we must compare it to what was previously viewed as a fast spreading worm – Code-Red, which eighteen months ago managed to double every 37 minutes.

In fact, the tiny and speedy Helkern spread at such a ferocious rate that it actually got in the way of its own growth by taking down the servers and slowing to a snails pace entire sections of the Internet that it needed to continue multiplying.

It is only fortunate that Helkern did not carry with it a malicious payload but rather simply brought down victim machines by choking them on copies of itself.

A report on Helkern issued by CAIDA sums up the Helkern phenomenon by saying, “Though very simple, Sapphire represents a significant milestone in the evolution of computer worms. Although it did not contain a destructive payload, Sapphire spread worldwide in roughly 10 minutes causing significant disruption of financial, transportation, and government institutions. It clearly demonstrates that fast worms are not just a theoretical threat, but a reality – one that should be considered a standard tool in the arsenal of an attacker.”

To learn more about Helkern’s technical attributes please visit the Kaspersky Virus Encycolpedia at the following address:

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