Computer Worm Set To Strike April 1st

03.25.09 | FL News Team

Millions of personal computers worldwide could fall ill a week from today and it will not be an April Fools joke. The so-called Conficker worm is set to strike next Wednesday possibly crippling up to 12-million computers.

What will actually happen is anyone's guess. On April 1st, the Conficker worm will search for a rendezvous point, a hidden server, asking for instructions. The instruction could tell individual computers to begin sending out spam, stealing data or even helping creators with online scams.

The Conficker worm is not spread by opening an e-mail attachment or running an infected program. It did not require a PC user to do anything except avoid updating their Windows operating system. The worm took advantage of a security lapse on Microsoft's part.

Chinese hackers figured it out and actually sold a program designed to take advantage of the opening on about 800-million computers around the world. Microsoft acted quickly issuing an emergency patch in October but the damage was done, especially on machines using unlicensed copies of Windows operating systems.

Conficker wormed its way onto servers breaking into secure systems by searching for user IDs. It copied itself onto music players and digital cameras, anything using a USB port on a computer.

In spite of efforts to shut down the servers Conficker uses to retrieve instructions and in spite of all efforts to eradicate it, the creators managed to update the worm on March 6th and on March 17th creating a massive worldwide peer-to-peer network. Next Wednesday, each of those millions of newly updated bots will check in for marching orders and security experts say the result is not likely to be a joke.

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