Appearing in May 2004, the Sasser virus (also known as the W32/Sasser.worm, W32.Sasser.Worm, Worm.Win32.Sasser.a, Worm.Win32.Sasser.b or Win32.Sasser) is a virus which exploits a security hole in the LSASS (Local Security Authority Subsystem Service, which corresponds to the executable file lsass.exe) in Windows. The appearance of the first virus to exploit the security hole in Windows' LSASS service occurred barely two weeks after the hole was publicised and the first patches for it were released. Windows NT 4.0, 2000, XP and (to a lesser degree) Windows Server 2003 are all affected.
Then, when a vulnerable machine is found, the worm opens a remote shell on the machine (on TCP port 9996), and makes the remote machine download a copy of the worm (named avserve.exe or avserve2.exe for the Sasser.B variant) in the Windows directory.
Once the file has been downloaded, it creates a file named win.log (or win2.log for the Sasser.B variant) in the c:\ directory in order to record how many machines it was able to infect. Then it creates entries in the registry so that it will restart every time the computer is rebooted:
HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run\avserve = avserve.exeor
avserve.exe -> C:\%WINDIR%\avserve.exe
Exploiting the LSASS vulnerability causes some malfunctions on affected computers, related to shutting down the LSASS service (process lsass.exe). Vulnerable systems have the following symptoms:
System shutdown initiated by Authority/System
The system process: C:\WINDOWS\system32\lsass.exe
terminated unexpectedly with status code 128.
lsass.exe - application error
To eradicate the Sasser worm, the best method involves first protecting the system by activating the firewall. In Windows XP, go to
Start menu > Settings > Control panel > Network connectionsThen right-click on the Internet connection, and from there click on Properties. Select the tab "Advanced settings", then check the box "Protect my computer and the network by limiting or preventing access to this computer from the Internet," and apply it by clicking OK.
You should then update the system, either by using Windows Update or by downloading and installing whichever patch is right for your operating system:
Finally, you can clean up the system by using the virus removal kit:
Download the virus removal kit
What's more, since the virus spreads using Microsoft Windows networking, it is strongly recommended to install a personal firewall on your machines which are connected to the Internet, and also to filter ports TCP/445, TCP/5554 and TCP/9996.