Skip to main content


Hitachi Incident Response Team

HIRT-PUB07005: Let's take a look at the flow of packet data transmitted by a worm Part II

Visualization of packet data transmitted by a worm-infected node

Updated: Jun.1, 2007

What is a worm?
A worm is a self-replicating malicious computer program. Unlike narrowly defined computer viruses, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program for infective activities, and is characterized by the fact that it penetrates other computers via the network and self-propagates.


Since 2001, network worms (hereafter referred to as "worms"), including Nimda and CodeRed with advanced functions, have come into existence and threatened network infrastructure and corporate intranets countless times. Although no massive incidents due to new worms have occurred recently, nodes*1 infected by worms which proliferated widely in the past still continue their infective activities. On this page, we attempt to visualize the packet*2 of worms, which remains flowing within the network.

In the HIRT-PUB07004, we attempted to visualize the activities of a worm, focusing on the regularity of a packet (a destination IP address) sent by the worm. In the HIRT-PUB07005, we are targeting visualization, focusing on the completeness (i.e. the scanning scope) and the selection order (the random nature) of a destination IP address.

Type of target node searching activity

Usually, worms search for target nodes to propagate themselves and there are said to be some patterns in the search methods. According to data known and released on papers, previous typical worms are classified as shown below:

(1)Worms that intensively explore the adjacent network of the infected node:
(2)Worms that explore a wide range, not only the adjacent network:
It is also known that some worms randomly select the IP address of the target node, while others select based on certain patterns.

Visualization of packet data transmitted by a worm-infected node

We observed a node actually infected by a worm within a closed experimental environment and visualized observation data using our proprietary tool.

Figure: Visualization Method

This tool decomposes the destination IP address of a packet sent by the node into 4 octets*3 and visualizes the value of each octet via two measures different from the previous one (HIRT-PUB07004). One measure involves visualizing the degree of bias and range of the octet's value by coloring the relevant ones in the 256 grids. The color shows the frequency of appearance of the value, while a warmer color indicates a more frequent appearance.

Figure: Visualization Method

The other measure involves visualizing the selection order and random nature of the octet's value by putting dots based on the value of each octet in a scatter plot, within which the vertical axis indicates the octet value and the horizontal axis the elapsed time.

Equipment connected to the network. It means a computer here.
Unit of data to transmit data after splitting it into small pieces during data communication
One of the units for the amount of information and 1 octet is equivalent to 8-bits.

Page 1 of 3 pages