Conficker — April Fool’s Joke or Real Threat?
Check to see if you are infected; and clean up!
Internet computing is becoming more and more dangerous today, and the chances of your computer becoming infected are increasingly greater. Pop-up screens, compromised web sites, update neglect, social engineering — all of these factors are working effectively to infect more computers today than ever before. And it is likely to get worse.
On April 2, there were about 64,000 computers infected (according to web estimates) by the Conficker virus. On April 1, it was predicted that the virus would strike and wreak havoc on computers everywhere. April 1 came and went with little activity. Only now is the true motive for the virus being revealed — and because of its programmable nature, we likely haven’t heard the last of it.
Previously, viruses were written for the purpose of earning the virus writer notoriety. Now the focus is on stealth — installing viruses and malware that can surreptitiously acquire information which can be converted to profitable enterprises for the virus writer. Conficker takes this to a new and disturbing level. Here’s an example:
The above screen is a fake pop-up that will appear if your machine is infected with Conficker. The pop- up is persistent — and annoying. It eventually requests that you use a credit card to pay $49.95 to remove alleged viruses infecting your computer. The true goal is to get your credit card information.
How can you check to see if your computer is infected? Run the test at:
When this site appears, so should the six images below. If all six images do not appear, Conficker has likely infiltrated your computer. You can remove it by going to the following web site:
Once you have removed the Conficker virus, we recommend running Windows Updates (sometimes labeled Microsoft Updates) by going to Start—All Programs—Windows Updates (or Microsoft Updates). Install all the critical updates and perform the reboots requested until there are no critical updates left to perform. Don’t do this until the Conficker virus is completely removed.
We also recommend that you perform a free scan of your computer using MalwareBytes, obtainable at www.malwarebytes.org.
While the information in this article is specific to Conficker, we recommend that you keep your machine updated with critical updates from Microsoft to counter the vulnerabilities exploited by viruses such as Conficker.