By Brian Livingston
Computers infected with the infamous Conficker worm will start scanning the Internet for instructions this April Fools’ Day, and the results won’t be a funny joke.
I’m publishing a special news update today to correct some misinformation that’s been circulating and to give you a 1-2-3 approach that should cure most Conficker infections before April 1.
In a technical analysis, the nonprofit security group SRI International states that millions of PCs have become infected with Conficker. It’s “the most dominating infection outbreak since Sasser,” a worm that raced across the Internet in 2004, SRI says.
Writer John Markoff opined in a New York Times blog post on March 19 that Conficker’s bot army “could possibly become the world’s most powerful parallel computer.” Something tells me this network isn’t going to be used to search for signs of intelligent life in the universe.
First of all: Whatever you’ve heard, don’t panic. Most Windows Secrets readers don’t have PCs infected with Conficker. The SRI analysis estimates that 54% of the affected machines are in China, Russia, India, Brazil, and Argentina, where many people use unauthorized Windows knockoffs. (Microsoft doesn’t provide all its patches to unlicensed copies of Windows, leaving the vulnerable machines free to attack us — a self-defeating policy recently described by security expert Bruce Schneier.)