Protecting yourself from Conficker

April 1, 2009 5:00:20 PM PDT
The malicious Conficker Internet worm got more aggressive about trying to reach its creators Wednesday, but computer security researchers appeared correct in their predictions that the effects would be muted. The worm's programming included a change in tactics on April 1: The estimated 3 million to 12 million computers infected by Conficker were told to step up their attempts to "phone home" for commands. But that seemed to be the only sign of life from the bug.

"One thing we're not seeing is any mass malicious activity," said Joris Evers, an analyst with McAfee. "The Internet today is working just as well as it was working yesterday."

The worm can take control of unsuspecting PCs running Microsoft's Windows operating system. But its creators likely want to use their vast "botnet" to send spam or perform other cybercrimes, and not to bring down the Internet.

That's one reason analysts say the people behind the virus will probably wait to send any commands. "Everyone who is fighting Conficker is on high alert," Evers said.

Security companies monitoring the worm have been largely successful at blocking infected machines from communicating with whoever programmed it.

Microsoft issued a software update, called a "patch," to protect PCs from vulnerability back in October. But not everyone applied the patch.

In one telltale sign of an infected machine, Conficker blocks Microsoft's site as well as those of most antivirus companies. Computer owners can work around that obstacle by having someone else e-mail them a Conficker removal tool.

RELATED LINKS:

AVG Free Anti-Virus

McAfee Conficker site

Microsoft Conficker Site

What is it, and how can you protect yourself?

Computer Specialist, Andre Bennett, says on April Fools Day the Conficker Worm will bolster itself making it more difficult for people like himself to interrupt it.

"It's a very dangerous virus out there."

Once your system has it, sensitive information like usernames and passwords could be stolen as you log into banking, credit card, and other accounts and you won't even know it.

"It takes over your computer and tries to replicate keystrokes."

They say your computer will turn into a machine that will send out spam for them, they'll data mine your computer, get all your information and sell that information.

Experts say there are easy ways to see if your system is infected with Conficker; the worm blocks PC's from accessing antivirus vendors like McAfee and Symantec as well as Microsoft's websites. Bennett says you need to begin protecting your system immediately.

"If you have a house you know your going to keep your door locked your going to have an alarm system. You're not going to open your door unless you know who it is. It's the same concept."

He recommends running a good security system, keep your computer updated and maybe most importantly:

"There are a bunch of free pop ups that come up and say your computer is infected. That's a trick. Please I beg you do not download that."

If you believe your computer is infected there is a remedy. Have a friend whose computer is not infected download a removal tool and email it to you.

For internet security resources:
Conficker Working Group
McAfee
Microsoft
Symantec

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