Conficker: forgotten but not gone

Kido worm still wriggling below the surface

Conficker may not dominate the headlines any longer, but it's still going strong, according to Trend Micro's Malware Blog and stats from the Conficker Working Group.

The worm/botnet grabbed plenty of attention earlier this year, and I wrote plenty about it myself. Part of that focus came from its giant infection rate, part from its sophisticated techniques, and part was pure hype. And after a ballyhooed April Fool's day threat came and went with little incident, it seemed to largely vanish from the public eye.

But it didn't go away. According to stats from the Conficker Working Group, the number of unique IPs seen infected with the first two Conficker variants has bounced around some, but has generally risen since the end of May. On 5/31 it was at 3.7 million. On 6/29, it was 5.1 million.

As Trend's post states, that puts the estimated number of actual infections at a minimum of about 1.2 million, which is a serious botnet indeed. Conficker's creators have previously used it to spread fake antivirus programs, and a botnet (a network of malware-infected PCs) can be instructed to perform a wide variety of money-making tasks for its controller, such as sending spam.

So while Conficker might not have caused the sky to fall, it's still worth keeping in mind as a real threat. Here's a simple visual test to help determine whether any given PC might be infected, and here are protection steps for keeping a computer free of the worm.

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Erik Larkin

PC World (US online)
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