Survey: One in nine IIS servers compromised

One in nine servers running Microsoft Corp.'s IIS (Internet Information Services) has software installed on it that would allow attackers to take complete control of the system, according to a new survey by Web server information firm Netcraft Ltd.

The survey, conducted in October, found that 11 percent of all queried servers running IIS have the "root.exe" hacking program installed on them. That figure is up from the 8.5 percent found in September. Netcraft sends a monthly automated query to servers to discover information such as what software runs the server, what average server uptime is and what security flaws are present in servers. The October survey drew data from 33.1 million Web sites.

IIS security has come under particular scrutiny in recent months as at least half a dozen serious security flaws in IIS have been discovered since January and two major Internet worms, Code Red and Nimda, have exploited those flaws to infect hundreds of thousands of IIS systems worldwide.

Although patches have been issued for all those security holes, not all vulnerable systems have had the patches applied, so both worms were able to cause substantial inconvenience and even forced some companies offline. A new Nimda worm appeared Tuesday, exploiting the same flaws as the first Nimda, which had evidently not been patched on many servers.

The presence of four other IIS security flaws rose from September to October, the survey found. The "Administration pages accessible" hole was present on 25 percent of machines, up from 17 percent in September; the "Sample pages and scripts" problem jumped from 17 percent to 26 percent of systems; the "Server paths revealed" flaw was found on 10 percent of systems, up from 8.5 percent; 2.5 percent of systems were vulnerable to the Code Red worm, up from zero the month before.

The survey also found that a number of Web sites had moved from using IIS to competitor's products. Over the course of the month, more than 1,500 sites moved from IIS to Zeus Technology Ltd.'s Web server and more than 1,700 moved to Netscape Communications Corp.'s server. Open-source server Apache also gained substantial share, Netcraft said. Netcraft also noted that a number of vendors offered promotions and discounts to entice IIS users to their products.

Patches for the security holes in IIS can be obtained at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/security/current.asp?productid=17&servicepackid=0

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