Crisis malware doesn’t affect most VMware hypervisors

A few days ago Symantec researchers revealed that the Crisis malware is not limited to attacking Mac machines, but has the ability to infect devices running Windows and Windows Mobile, as well as VMware virtual machines.

Unlike the majority of other malware that terminates itself when it detects a VMware virtual machine image on the compromised computer in order to avoid being analyzed, this one mounts the image and then copies itself onto the image by using a VMware Player tool.

The news troubled users of VMware products, but according to Warren Wu, director of datacenter products at Trend Micro, there’s very little to worry about.

First things first, the malware has been detected in the wild on less than 100 machines in total, i.e. the rate of infection is extremely limited.

Also, the malware can affect only specific types VMware hypervisors – a family of test development and productivity products called Workstation and Player.

Unlike the company’s data center products, these hypervisors get installed on top of standard operating systems, and hosts multiple virtual machines, and the infection travels through the already compromised host operating system to the virtual machine(s).

Given that the great majority of VMware customers use the data center products, they can rest easy for the moment.

Still, the reality is that there is a hacker out there who decided to exploit the fact that virtualization allows the disk, memory and other components to be abstracted into a file which then can be manipulated to add malware to the virtual disk, and that should not be ignored. He (or she) tried a completely new approach, and it worked, and it may open the way for others.

“It’s important to be aware that some malware writer in the future can try to leverage this same technique against the data center products,” Wu pointed out in an interview with CRN.

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