Threat Explorer

The Threat Explorer is a comprehensive resource consumers can turn to for daily, accurate, up-to-date information on the latest threats, risks and vulnerabilities.



08 August 2001
13 February 2007

VBS.Merlin.C@mm is a mass-mailing worm written in the Visual Basic Scripting (VBS) language. The worm spreads by emailing itself to all contacts in the Microsoft Outlook address book. It can also spread across network drives and by using an IRC client and Gnotella (a client used on the Gnutella network). Its main payload attempts to create 10,000 randomly named folders in the root of drive C and places a text file into each of these folders.

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version 08 August 2001
  • Latest Rapid Release version 28 September 2010 revision 054
  • Initial Daily Certified version 08 August 2001
  • Latest Daily Certified version 28 September 2010 revision 036
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date pending
Click here for a more detailed description of Rapid Release and Daily Certified virus definitions.

When executed, this worm does the following:
  1. It copies itself into the \Windows folder using a randomly generated file name.
  2. It drops the file C:\Windows\AnarchyCookBook.html and the following files into the folder that contains the worm:

    "Pamela - SexVideo.avi.vbs"
    "Silva Saint - Blowjob.avi.vbs"
    "Britney Spears - Nude.jpg.vbs"
    "Dante - Miss California.mp3.vbs"
    "Silver - Turn the tide.mp3.vbs"
    "Queen - Show must go on.mp3.vbs"
    "R Kelly - Fiesta.mp3.vbs"
    "Inari Vachs - Gangbang.avi.vbs"
  3. It changes registry keys so that the worm is run whenever you open files that have the following extensions:

  4. It changes registry keys to decrease the security level of the computer.
  5. It searches for other computers on the local network, and if any are found, it copies itself to them.
  6. It deletes any messages from the Microsoft Outlook inbox that have one of the following subjects:

    Fw: Microsoft Security Bulletin.
    Windows XP Betatest
    the requested document
    Fw:Corel Joke
    Fake Pics of Britney Spears
    SARC Virus Warning
    Hi :-)
  7. It sends itself as an HTML email message to all contacts in your Microsoft Outlook address book, as follows:

    Subject: As the subject of the email, it uses one from the previous list. above list.
    Message: You need ActiveX enabled if you want to see this e-mail. Please open this message again and click accept ActiveX. Microsoft
  8. The worm then modifies the Script.ini file and attempts to spread using mIRC.
  9. It modifies the Gnotella.ini file to ignore .htm and .vbs extensions of files for users who connect to the infected computer using Gnotella.
  10. It checks the extensions of files on the infected computer and performs the following actions, depending on the extension:
    • If the extension is .htm or .html, the worm overwrites them with the dropped file AnarchyCookBook.html. It also searches the file for the mailto tag. If it finds the mailto tag, it sends email to the address.
    • If the extension is .jpg or .mp3, the worm deletes the file.
    • If the extension is .exe, .com, or .bat, the worm changes the attribute of the file to hidden, overwrites the file, and then adds the .vbs extension to the file name.
    • If the extension is .vbs, .vbe, or .wsh, the worm overwrites the file.
  11. The worm attempts to create 10,000 randomly named folders in the root of drive C. Each of these folders contains a text file.
  12. It attempts to download another .exe file and execute it. The .exe file that it downloads is saved as C:\Windows\System\Cih.exe.
  13. Three or more days after the infection occurs, the worm:
    • Modifies the Autoexec.bat file to delete the contents of drive C the next time that the computer starts.
    • Attempts to delete C:\Windows\User.dat.
    • Attempts to delete C:\Windows\System.dat.


Symantec Security Response encourages all users and administrators to adhere to the following basic security "best practices":

  • Use a firewall to block all incoming connections from the Internet to services that should not be publicly available. By default, you should deny all incoming connections and only allow services you explicitly want to offer to the outside world.
  • Enforce a password policy. Complex passwords make it difficult to crack password files on compromised computers. This helps to prevent or limit damage when a computer is compromised.
  • Ensure that programs and users of the computer use the lowest level of privileges necessary to complete a task. When prompted for a root or UAC password, ensure that the program asking for administration-level access is a legitimate application.
  • Disable AutoPlay to prevent the automatic launching of executable files on network and removable drives, and disconnect the drives when not required. If write access is not required, enable read-only mode if the option is available.
  • Turn off file sharing if not needed. If file sharing is required, use ACLs and password protection to limit access. Disable anonymous access to shared folders. Grant access only to user accounts with strong passwords to folders that must be shared.
  • Turn off and remove unnecessary services. By default, many operating systems install auxiliary services that are not critical. These services are avenues of attack. If they are removed, threats have less avenues of attack.
  • If a threat exploits one or more network services, disable, or block access to, those services until a patch is applied.
  • Always keep your patch levels up-to-date, especially on computers that host public services and are accessible through the firewall, such as HTTP, FTP, mail, and DNS services.
  • Configure your email server to block or remove email that contains file attachments that are commonly used to spread threats, such as .vbs, .bat, .exe, .pif and .scr files.
  • Isolate compromised computers quickly to prevent threats from spreading further. Perform a forensic analysis and restore the computers using trusted media.
  • Train employees not to open attachments unless they are expecting them. Also, do not execute software that is downloaded from the Internet unless it has been scanned for viruses. Simply visiting a compromised Web site can cause infection if certain browser vulnerabilities are not patched.
  • If Bluetooth is not required for mobile devices, it should be turned off. If you require its use, ensure that the device's visibility is set to "Hidden" so that it cannot be scanned by other Bluetooth devices. If device pairing must be used, ensure that all devices are set to "Unauthorized", requiring authorization for each connection request. Do not accept applications that are unsigned or sent from unknown sources.
  • For further information on the terms used in this document, please refer to the Security Response glossary.

Run LiveUpdate to make sure that you have the most recent virus definitions.
  1. Start Norton AntiVirus (NAV), and run a full system scan. Make sure that NAV is configured to scan all files.
  2. Delete all files that are detected as VBS.Merlin.C@mm.
  3. If the worm has run, then you must restore damaged or deleted files from a clean backup or reinstall the missing or damaged software. In some cases, you must reinstall Windows. The numerous changes to the registry can be changed manually from a recent backup, or by reinstalling Windows and any affected programs. Instructions on how to manually restore the registry are in the next section.
  4. Reset the attributes of .exe, .com, or .bat files whose attributes were changed to hidden. To do this at a DOS command prompt, type the following command and then press Enter:

    attrib -h -s -r <file name> and then press Enter.

How to manually restore the changes that were made to the registry

CAUTION : We strongly recommend that you back up the system registry before you make any changes. Incorrect changes to the registry could result in permanent data loss or corrupted files. Please make sure that you modify only the keys specified. Please see the document How to back up the Windows registry before you proceed.
  1. Click Start, and click Run. The Run dialog box appears.
  2. Type regedit and then click OK. The Registry Editor opens.
  3. Navigate to and double-click the key

  4. Directly under this key, one at a time, look for each of the following subkeys:

  5. For each one that exists, double-click the following value in the right pane:


    The Edit String dialog box opens.
  6. Look at the text in the Value Data box. If the value has been changed to "Eva", replace it with the correct text as shown in the following list:

    NOTE: These are the default values. If you installed software that changed these values, either change the value to the value assigned by that software, or reinstall the software.

    Subkey name = Change the value to:
    .js = JSFile
    .doc = WordPad.Document.1
    .gif = giffile
    .jpg = jpegfile
    .htt = HTTfile
    .bmp = Paint.Picture
    .avi = AVIFile
    .mpg = mpegfile
    .shs = ShellScrap
    .mp3 = mp3file
  7. Navigate to the key

  8. In the right pane, delete the value

  9. Navigate to the following key and delete it:

  10. Navigate to the key

  11. In the right pane, look for values that have a random-letter name, for example:


    The Value Data of this will look similar to


    Delete all such values that you find.
  12. Navigate to the key:

  13. In the right pane, double-click

    Registered Owner
  14. In the Value Data box, replace "Abi2001 - Show Must Go On!" with the name of the registered owner of the installed copy of Windows.
  15. Navigate to the keys

  16. In the right pane, double-click the value:

  17. In the ValueData box, replace the value 1 with the value 3, and then click OK.
  18. Navigate to each of the keys in the following list. For each one, look in the right pane and double-click the value. In the ValueData box, replace the value 1 with the value 0, and then click OK.

    NOTE: In the following list, the value that you must double-click appears at the end of each key. For example, for the first key in the list, select the key

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\0

    in the left pane, and double-click the value


    in the right pane. Then replace the value 1 with the value 0.

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\0\1200

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\0\1201

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\0\1004

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\1\1200

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\1\1201

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\1\1004

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\3\1200

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\3\1201

    Windows\CurrentVersions\Internet Settings\Zones\3\1004
  19. Navigate to and delete the key

    Windows Scripting Host\
  20. Navigate to the key

  21. In the right pane, select "NoDesktop" and delete it.
  22. Exit the Registry Editor.

Writeup By: Kaoru Hayashi