No this is not an April Fool's Day joke, this is serious. Every few years, the internet is hit by a vicious malware that wreaks havoc on on computers. And it all seems to happen on one day, April 1st, and security experts are racing against time to mitigate the impact of this hazard. For some reason, malware creators like to target April Fool's Day and this latest attack, known as Conficker C, is rumored to be the most damaging attack seen in years.
The infamous Conficker had its debut in late 2008 and started getting buzz when its victims reached over 9 million in January. This third installment, known as Conficker C, has grown increasingly more virulent, complicated and powerful. However, no one really knows what exactly the damages will be come emergence day.
What is really impressive, is that Microsoft is offering a quarter-million dollar bounty on the head of the maker of the worm. Security researchers are desperately digging into the worm's code attempting to engineer a cure or find the writer before the deadline. What is known, is that as of April 1, all infected computers will come under the control of one master computer located somewhere in the vast reaches of the internet. At this point, anything and everything is possible. These controlled computers could do a number of things. They could steal personal information, completely wipe hard drives, deny service, or even generate more pop-ups and extortion-like services designed to sell you made up security software.
Conficker is no ordinary virus, it's smarter than the others. It is really really good at hiding it's tracks. It uses an incredible amount of URLs to communicate with its HQ computer. Conficker's first version only used about 250 different URLs daily, allowing researchers and ICANN buy and disable. Unfortunately, Conficker C has increased the dosage to an astonishing 50,000 different addresses each day! This incredible size makes ot impossible track and disable each one by hand.
Right now you should be extra careful about protecting your computer. Only patch Windows through Windows update and upgrade your anti-malware software as well. You should also make sure your antivirus software is running too, because Conficker just may have disabled it.
It makes me wonder, what with all this talk about master computers, computer HQ, controlled computers, nation-wide extremely violent computer viruses and such, if we are slowly approaching the D-Day foreseen in the Terminator movies? On a serious note though, what is the purpose of these computer viruses? Why do people sit around and create something that ruins people's lives? What joy do they get from it? I guess we may never know. All we can do is protect ourselves as best we can and pray to God that the amazing people trying to help us stop this virus before it infects us all.