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02 April 2003
13 February 2007
Systems Affected:

VBS.Vmort is a Visual Basic Script designed to disable the proper running of the .bat, .exe, .com, and .vbs files. It does not have mass-mailing capability. You would need to intentionally run the script to trigger the payload.

Antivirus Protection Dates

  • Initial Rapid Release version 02 April 2003
  • Latest Rapid Release version 28 September 2010 revision 054
  • Initial Daily Certified version 02 April 2003
  • Latest Daily Certified version 28 September 2010 revision 036
  • Initial Weekly Certified release date 02 April 2003
Click here for a more detailed description of Rapid Release and Daily Certified virus definitions.

When VBS.Vmort is executed, it does the following:
  1. Resets the (Default) value of the following registry keys:


    to a Value Data of 1.

    As a result, the .bat, .exe, .com, and .vbs files will no longer run.
  2. Creates the key:



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.

The following instructions pertain to all current and recent Symantec antivirus products, including the Symantec AntiVirus and Norton AntiVirus product lines.
  1. Update the virus definitions.
  2. Run a full system scan and delete all the files detected as VBS.Vmort.
  3. Copy Regedit.exe to and edit the registry.

For specific details on each of these steps, read the following instructions.

  • If the Trojan has not yet run—that is, the worm's file was copied to your computer but has not run—you should be able to follow the instructions in sections 1 and 2, which discuss detecting and removing this file. (If the worm has run, in most cases you will not be able to follow these instructions, as the modifications that the Trojan made will prevent you from doing so.)
  • If the Trojan has run, first follow the instructions in section 3 (and section 4 if you are running Windows 95/98/Me). After you complete those instructions, follow the steps in sections 1 and 2.

1. Updating the virus definitions
Symantec Security Response fully tests all the virus definitions for quality assurance before they are posted to our servers. There are two ways to obtain the most recent virus definitions:
  • Running LiveUpdate, which is the easiest way to obtain virus definitions: These virus definitions are posted to the LiveUpdate servers once each week (usually on Wednesdays), unless there is a major virus outbreak. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by LiveUpdate, refer to the Virus Definitions (LiveUpdate).
  • Downloading the definitions using the Intelligent Updater: The Intelligent Updater virus definitions are posted on U.S. business days (Monday through Friday). You should download the definitions from the Symantec Security Response Web site and manually install them. To determine whether definitions for this threat are available by the Intelligent Updater, refer to the Virus Definitions (Intelligent Updater).

    The Intelligent Updater virus definitions are available here. For detailed instructions on how to download and install the Intelligent Updater virus definitions from the Symantec Security Response Web site, click here.

2. Scanning for and deleting the infected files
  1. Start your Symantec antivirus program and make sure that it is configured to scan all the files.
  2. Run a full system scan.
  3. If any files are detected as infected with VBS.Vmort, click Delete.

3. Copying Regedit.exe to and editing the registry
Because the worm modified the registry so that you cannot run the .exe files, first make a copy of the Registry Editor as a file with the .scr extension, and then run the file.
  1. Do one of the following, depending on the version of Windows you are running:
    • Windows 95/98 users:
      1. Click Start.
      2. Point to Programs.
      3. Click the MS-DOS Prompt. (A DOS window opens at the C:\Windows prompt.) Proceed to step b of this section.
    • Windows Me users:
      1. Click Start.
      2. Point to Programs.
      3. Point to Accessories.
      4. Click the MS-DOS Prompt. (A DOS window opens at the C:\Windows prompt.) Proceed to step b of this section.
    • Windows NT/2000 users:
      1. Click Start, and then click Run.
      2. Type command, and then press Enter. (A DOS window opens.)
      3. Type cd \winnt, and then press Enter.
      4. Go to step b of this section.
    • Windows XP users:
      1. Click Start, and then click Run.
      2. Type command, and then press Enter. (A DOS window opens.)
      3. Type the following:

        cd \windows

        Press Enter after typing each one.
      4. Proceed to step b of this section.

  2. Type copy regedit.exe regedit.scr

    and then press Enter.
  3. Type start regedit.scr

    and then press Enter. (The Registry Editor opens in front of the DOS window.)

    After you finish editing the registry, exit the Registry Editor, and then exit the DOS window as well.
  4. Before continuing, Symantec strongly recommends that you back up the registry before making any changes to it. Incorrect changes to the registry can result in permanent data loss or corrupted files. Modify the specified keys only. For instructions, read the document, "How to make a backup of the Windows registry."
  5. Navigate to and select the key:


    NOTE: The HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT key contains many subkey entries that refer to other file extensions. One of these file extensions is .exe. Changing this extension can prevent any files ending with a .exe extension from running. Make sure that you completely browse through this path until you reach the \command subkey.

    Modify the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command subkey, shown in the following figure:

    <<=== NOTE: Modify this key.
  6. In the right pane, double-click the (Default) value.
  7. Delete the current value data, and then type:

    "%1" %*

    That is, type the characters: quote-percent-one-quote-space-percent-asterisk.

    • Under Windows 95/98/Me/NT, the Registry Editor automatically encloses the value within quotation marks. When you click OK, the (Default) value should look exactly like this:

      ""%1" %*"  
    • Under Windows 2000/XP, the additional quotation marks will not appear. When you click OK, the (Default) value should look exactly like this:

      "%1" %*
    • Make sure that you completely delete all the value data in the command key before typing the correct data. If you leave a space at the beginning of the entry, any attempt to run the program files will result in the error message, "Windows cannot find .exe." If this occurs, restart the entire process from the beginning of this document and make sure that you completely remove the current value data.

  8. Navigate to each of the following keys and reset them to the correct (Default) values:


    NOTE: The correct default values of these keys may vary with the installation and operating system.
  9. Exit the Registry Editor.

Writeup By: Maryl Magee