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Tweak in `Conficker' worm sparks fears

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  • Coleman Wheeler
    Tweak in `Conficker worm sparks fears The Associated Press 7:51 PM EST March 31, 2009 Even if it s not an April Fools joke, the latest moves by the dreaded
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2009
      Tweak in `Conficker' worm sparks fears
      The Associated Press
      7:51 PM EST March 31, 2009

      Even if it's not an April Fools' joke, the latest moves by the dreaded Conficker worm are by no means an Internet Armageddon, either.

      The worm's alarming outbreak entered a new phase Wednesday as clocks around the world ticked into the first day of April, the day it was scheduled to change programing.

      But security experts appeared correct in their predictions that the day was likely to come and go without any major disruptions, even though the worm has infected anywhere from 3 million to 12 million PCs running Microsoft's Windows operating system. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

      To learn more, check Microsoft's Web page on Conficker. Also, a list of the free Conficker removal programs is available on the Web site of the Conficker Working Group. The removal programs will take care of themselves, for the most part, scanning your system and purging the worm.

      Computer infections now are all about making money by stealing people's personal information. And Conficker's authors stand to make more money from renting out parts of their huge "botnet" to spammers or identity thieves than by destroying parts of the Internet.

      "These guys have been pretty smart until now - the worm is unfortunately very well done," said Patrik Runald, chief security advisor for F-Secure Corp. "So far they haven't been stupid. So why should they start on April 1?"

      But panic over the worm had reached a frenzy. Lori Lynn Pavlovich, a mother of four from Racine, Wis., unplugged her PC and vowed to stay offline for a week after seeing a local TV news report about the worm.

      "I get scared real easy when it comes to stuff like that," she said. Pavlovich, who says she keeps her antivirus software and security patches up-to-date, got back online 24 hours later after a relative assured her that her system was safe.

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