The past couple of weeks, a new malicious and particularly virulent worm known as Downadup, also more popularly known as Conficker has started to infect millions of PCs. In fact by some estimates, it has infected over 10 million PCs worldwide. As with many threats proper prevention can greatly reduce or eliminate your problem.
This worm is particularly dangerous as it can infect your PC in many ways. You can be infected by simply visiting your favorite Web site, downloading a file or email from the Internet, loading a USB drive, or just by leaving your networked computer on, overnight while you’re asleep.
The worm takes advantage of known vulnerabilities in Windows to spread. Its removal can be difficult, as it blocks many known antivirus software and associated websites. In some cases it even disables antivirus software already installed or the Windows Update service.
After infection, it may choose to run rogue software on the machine, or use it as a host to infect other machines. Particularly troubling, security experts believe, is that on April 1st, a new variant of the worm will begin to randomly check various websites on the Internet to download new instructions. What those instructions are unknown at this point and could be anything as harmless as telling a joke, displaying an ad or as harmful as destroying files or even stealing usernames and passwords.
The worm itself is not new, it made its first appearance late November 2008, known under the names Conficker or Kido. It shouldn’t have spread if people had made sure to the latest Windows and other updates were applied to their PCs and have kept up to date with their security vendors’ latest antivirus releases. Also since it spreads via network shares, making sure to use strong passwords on shared network drives would have helped to contain it early as well.
If you aren’t sure if your PC and network are protected, make sure to contact your IT service provider for advice.
Here are some other articles you might want to check out for more information:
- The Conficker worm’s evil genius. (slate.com)
- Conficker Worm Draws a Counter-Attack – PC World (domainmacher.com)
- FAQ: Conficker worm (cbc.ca)
- Your Quick Guide to the Conficker Worm (shankrila.com)
- Windows PC Worm Set to Activate on April 1st (littlegreenfootballs.com)