"BubbleBoy" Virus Reported

Network Associates Inc. (NAI, has reported the e-mail distribution of a new, highly infectious virus known as "BubbleBoy." The virus is an Internet worm and requires Internet Explorer 5 with Windows Scripting Host installed. Windows Scripting Host is standard in Windows 98 and 2000 installations.

The virus is particularly infectious because a user does not need to activate an attachment for the virus to infect. In Microsoft Outlook, the worm activates if the user opens the e-mail message. In Microsoft Outlook Express, the worm activates even if only the Preview Pane is used.

When the security setting in Internet Explorer 5 is set to High, the worm will not execute. Microsoft has addressed the BubbleBoy virus with a patch, available at

The virus is written in VB Script, and there are two variants. The .b variant is known to be encrypted. When the virus executes, it writes the file UPDATE.HTA to the local machine and during the next Windows startup, the .HTA file is invoked. The UPDATE.HTA file changes the registered owner via the registry to "BubbleBoy," changes the registered organization to "Vandelay Industries," and sends itself embedded in an e-mail message to every e-mail address in every address book in Outlook.

According to Russ Cooper, editor of NT Bugtraq (, the BubbleBoy virus is actually not the first of its kind. A similar worm, which was able to infect without opening the attachment, was discovered by University of Oulu researchers and reported on NT Bugtraq in July 1998. Since that time there have been several VBS-based worms and issues based on embedded Jscript which have the same effect as the BubbleBoy virus.

According to NAI, the following indicates infection by the Bubbleboy virus:

Registry key modification:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHIN\Software\OUTLOOK.BubbleBoy\ = OUTLOOK.Bubbleboy 1.0 by Zulu
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHIN\Software\OUTLOOK.BubbleBoy\ = OUTLOOK.Bubbleboy 1.1 by Zulu

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RegisteredOwner = Bubbleboy
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RegisteredOrganization = Vandelay Industries

-- Isaac Slepner

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.


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