Conficker is a worm that first surfaced late in 2008, taking advantage of a security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system to spread on its own. Several variants of Conficker have surfaced since the original. Computers infected with Conficker become part of an army of compromised computers and could be used to launch attacks on Web sites, distribute spam, host phishing Web sites or other nefarious activities.
One variant, Conficker.C, could activate on April 1, 2009—April Fool’s Day—and start another assault on Windows computers. While this may be a prank, you should make sure your computer systems are protected against this pest.
Once it is on a computer, Conficker digs itself in by attempting to deactivate security software and sabotage its tools to remove it. If you notice that you're unable to access Web sites such as www.mcafee.com or your security software is acting up, that could be a sign that your system was infected by Conficker.
The good news is that protecting against Conficker isn’t hard. There are two basic things that will ensure a Windows computer is shielded against the worm:
If your machine is configured with the “manual’ update option, you will need to run an update.
Should your computer be infected by Conficker and there is no anti-malware solution installed in your computer, McAfee Avert Labs’ Stinger tool can remove the malware. Download the tool here.
McAfee Avert Labs will monitor the state of the Internet on April 1 and report on any Conficker activity on the Avert Labs blog. Meanwhile, if you have any indication who is behind Conficker, report them to the authorities and you may be eligible for a $250,000 reward offered by Microsoft.