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A few simple steps can protect you against Conficker Worm

Submitted by on April 5, 2009 – 2:16 pmNo Comment

virusThe Conficker worm, sometimes called Downadup or Kido has managed to infect a large number of computers. Specifics are hard to come by, but some researchers estimate that millions of computers have been infected with this threat since January.

If you’re still worried about the Conficker threat from April 1st, here is some additional information. On April 1st the Conficker worm was potentially going to take steps to protect itself. Beginning on April 1st, the worm would have used a communications system that would have been more difficult for security researchers to interrupt.

What does the Conficker worm do?
This worm can do the following:
– Steal your data from your PC including your keystrokes and personal information
– Attack other PCs or send out email
– Prevent you from accessing security websites to get help or update your virus definitions

The Conficker worm has created secure infrastructure for cybercrime. The worm allows its creators to remotely install software on infected machines. What will that software do? We don’t know. Most likely the worm will be used to create a botnet that will be rented out to criminals who want to send SPAM, steal IDs and direct users to online scams and phishing sites.

The Conficker worm mostly spreads across networks. If it finds a vulnerable computer, it turns off the automatic backup service, deletes previous restore points, disables many security services, blocks access to a number of security web sites and opens infected machines to receive additional programs from the malware’s creator. The worm then tries to spread itself to other computers on the same network.

How does the worm infect a computer?
The Conflicker worm tries to take advantage of a problem with Windows (a vulnerability) called MS08-067 to quietly install itself. Users who automatically receive updates from Microsoft are already protected from this. The worm also tries to spread by copying itself into shared folders on networks and by infecting USB devices such as memory sticks.

Who is at risk?
Users whose computers are not configured to receive patches and updates from Microsoft and who are not running an up to date antivirus product are most at risk. Users who do not have a genuine version of Windows from Microsoft are most at risk since pirated system usually cannot get Microsoft updates and patches.

What to do if you are infected
If you are reading this page, your computer is probably not infected with Conficker as the worm blocks access to most security web sites.

If you have a computer that is infected, you will need to use an uninfected computer to download a specialized Conficker removal tool.

Norton Conflicker Removal Tool

Advice to Stay Safe from the Downadup Worm:

1. Run a good security suite (we are partial to Norton Internet Security 2009 and Norton 360 Version 3.0).
2. Keep your computer updated with the latest patches. If you don’t know how to do this, have someone help you set your system to update itself.
3. Don’t use “free” security scans that pop up on many web sites. All too often these are fake, using scare tactics to try to get you to purchase their “full” service. In many cases these are actually infecting you while they run. There is reason to believe that the creators of the Conficker worm are associated with some of these fake security products.
4. Turn off the “autorun” feature that will automatically run programs found on memory sticks and other USB devices.
5. Be smart with your passwords. This includes

– Change your passwords periodically
– Use complex passwords – no simple names or words, use special characters and numbers
– Using a separate, longer password for each site that has sensitive personal information or access to your bank accounts or credit cards.
– Use a passwords management system such as Identity Safe

FAQ
Q: What should I do if my PC is infected?

A: If you have a computer that is infected, you will need to use an uninfected computer to download a specialized Conficker removal tool from. The tool is available here.

Q: Am I safe if I don’t go to questionable web sites?

A: No. The Conficker worm seeks out computers on the same network. You can be in a coffee shop, an airport or in the office and the worm will quietly try to attach to your computer and run itself.

Q: How do I know if I am infected?

A: The best way to know if you are infected is to run a good antivirus product. One symptom that may indicate you are infected is finding that your computer is blocked from accessing the web sites of most security companies.

Q: Can’t I just run free antivirus software?

A: Yes, but free products often aren’t thorough or comprehensive. Worse, the internet is overflowing with fake free security scanners that actually infect your computer. Fake scanners such as “Antivirus 2008” are difficult to identify and have plagued hundreds of thousands of users around the world.

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