Conficker worm weakened but could return

Map of Conficker infections as of 1/29/09

Map of Conficker infections as of 1/29/09. Source: Team Cymru

By Brendan Sherwood

The Conficker worm, a major computer virus, caused panic last Wednesday when it showed signs of preparing for an attack. Experts say the attack was mostly avoided but the potential for a future attack remains. Marist College students are protected but can still take precautions to make sure they don’t get it in the future.

According to The New York Times, the Conficker software has spread “aggressively” around the world since October. It is a computer virus that connects infected computers to a powerful computer known as “botnet,” which can tell them to distribute malicious software, send e-mail spam, or attack networks and websites.

Marist College ResNet support analyst Adam Jones said, “No one on campus will have Conficker.”

However, Jones said, “We see people every couple days with a virus.”

The Washington Post reported that Conficker was less of a problem than it could have been because the “Conficker Cabal,” a group of security experts, anti-virus vendors, policy makers and private researchers worked together to stop the threat.

Lawrence Baldwin, founder of security consultancy myNetWatchman said, “Anti-virus products basically suck, with one exception: If the threat is on CNN, you can be sure they have a signature to detect it, because if your product doesn’t detect something that’s on CNN, you’re screwed. With a worm like this that’s so mysterious and successful, it’s almost a self-correcting system, because suddenly everyone is going to focus all of their attention on fighting it.”

Adam Jones said, “Students are required to have McAfee and the latest updates installed, that’s what Clean Access does.”

Jones knows of no problems with Marist College’s anti-virus software, which is McAfee Enterprise Edition. Marist students “get better software than they would as consumers,” Jones said.

According to The New York Times, while experts were trying to stop the Conficker worm, the worm’s authors created Conficker C, which was intended to contact 50,000 Internet domains on April 1. In response, researchers around the world have created a system allowing them to trap all attempted botnet communications.

Despite global efforts to stop the worm, PC World reported that about 2.2 million computers are infected with Conficker A and B, and about 1.2 million computers have Conficker C. It also said that nobody knows whether or not Conficker is really a dud and it could return.

Adam Jones said the main ways people can get viruses in general is through illegal file sharing programs such as Limewire and through e-mail attachments. The Marist College ResNet website and CD have free anti-virus programs like Spybot which can make students even safer online. Jones said, “McAfee is not going to catch everything so it’s good to use other free utilities.”

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Conficker Eye Chart. Follow Link to make sure your computer isn't infected.

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