FLN News / Preparing For the Conficker Worm

03.30.09 | Alan Gustafson

Millions of personal computers worldwide could fall ill this Wednesday and it will not be an April Fools joke. The so-called "Conficker" worm is set to strike 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. All you have to do is connect to the Internet, and Conficker could find its way into your computer. The worm took advantage of a security lapse on Microsoft's part.

So what should you do? FLN's Alan Gustafson fills you in:


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Step One: Update Windows

The worm is spread through computers that are not up to date with security patches. Find the "Windows Update" program on your computer. If you cannot find it, go to the online version here: windowsupdate.microsoft.com. Making sure your computer is up to date is one way to stop hackers.

If you are on dial-up, you probably know it may take a while to download patches. So consider downloading the updates while you sleep.

Step Two: Have Up to Date Anti-virus and Firewall Software

This is the next thing to stop hackers. Anti-virus software will help clean up any malicious software on your computer and stop future infections. Firewalls will keep hackers from gaining control of your computer through "back doors" in your Internet connection. If you have both of these guarding your computer, your chances of getting hacked go way down.

You can buy the two separately in stores, or together as part of "Internet Security" suites. But you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars to protect yourself! In fact, some companies offer free versions of their software. Here are a few examples:

Online Scanners*:

Kaspersky Virus Scanner

Trend Micro HouseCall

Norton Security Scan

Free Anti-virus Programs:

Avira AntiVir

avast!

AVG Free

Free Firewall Programs:

Comodo

ZoneAlarm

*Using an online scanner is a good way to see if you have any viruses now. However, it is better to have a program installed on your computer to monitor your system all the time.

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