Reuters top ten news stories delivered to your inbox each day.
You are here:
Business & Finance
The Great Debate
Do More With Reuters
Make Reuters My Homepage
Support (Customer Zone)
About Thomson Reuters
Computer experts brace for "Conficker" worm
Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:41pm EDT
Email | Print |
| Reprints | Single Page
By Jim Finkle
BOSTON (Reuters) - A malicious software program that has infected millions of computers could enter a more menacing phase on Wednesday, from an outright attack to a quiet mutation that would further its spread.
Computer security experts who have analyzed the Conficker worm's code say it is designed to begin a new phase on April 1, and while it's unclear whether it will unleash havoc or remain dormant, its stubborn presence is rattling businesses with multimillion-dollar budgets to fight cyber crime.
Conficker, believed to reside on 2 million to 12 million computers worldwide, is designed to turn an infected PC into a slave that responds to commands sent from a remote server that controls an army of slave computers known as a botnet.
"It can be used to attack as well as to spy. It can destroy files, it can connect to addresses on the Internet and it can forward your e-mail," said Gadi Evron, an expert on botnets who helps governments protect against cyber crime.
But like many security experts, he doubts Wednesday will see a big attack.
The virus has been powerful enough to attack infected computers for months by exploiting weaknesses in Microsoft's Windows operating system. Evron and several other analysts said Wednesday's change could simply give Conficker enhanced functionality, possibly making it more dangerous.
"This is the electronic equivalent of being told there is a major storm that has a 20 percent chance of hitting," said Mark Rasch, an executive at Secure IT Experts who spent 25 years prosecuting computer crimes at the U.S. Department of Justice.
"It's not time to hide in the bunker. But it might be prudent to look out the window," he added.
In February, Microsoft announced it was offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for creating Conficker, saying the worm constituted a "criminal attack."
FEARS OF ID THEFT
Botnets are a major worry because they can surreptitiously steal identities, log sensitive corporate information, credit card numbers, online banking passwords or other key data users of infected PCs type on their keyboards.
The information is often sold to criminal rings.
"Most malware we see in this day and age is very concerned with stealing information and making money for the author," said Dave Marcus, a researcher with security-software maker McAfee Inc's Avert Labs.
Experts said Conficker's authors might gradually change the way it communicates to avoid attention and to prevent companies from putting in place safeguards such as those used to fight the worm since it first surfaced last year.
Microsoft released a patch to protect against the worm late last year, while anti-virus software companies offer software to sniff it out and destroy it. Such tools can be expensive. Continued...
View article on single page
Facebook CFO to leave company
Also On Reuters
Commentary: Have we turned the corner?
Video: Can beer withstand the economic downturn?
Slideshow: Highlights from the NCAA tournament
More Technology News
Facebook CFO to leave company
HP says pondering Google's Android
Samsung unveils Mondi WiMax device for Clearwire
Talking in color: imaging helps social skills
E-books open new chapter for LCD makers
More Technology News...
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Slideshow
Most Popular on Reuters
Obama to Automakers: It's My Way or the Highway
Miss Universe says had "lot of fun" in Guantanamo
U.S. unveils Orion spacecraft to take crew to Mars
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly boycotting Sean Penn films
NASA in Colbert conundrum over Space Station
WRAPUP 1-Record drop in home prices keeps US consumers glum
Obama team drops "war on terror" rhetoric
U.S. recession easing but no bottom yet
GM sees bankruptcy risk | Video
UPDATE 5-Pistachios recalled in U.S. due to salmonella risk
Most Popular Articles RSS Feed
Loincloths hot among Japan woman
Illusionist floats in mid-air
Taliban claim Lahore raid
Madonna in Malawi court
Bike with ten-cornered wheels
Pizza vending machine
Beer still recession proof?
Obama hits the brakes on autos
And Finally Village for Sale
Business Update: Wall St. slumps
Most Popular Videos RSS Feed
The global destination for corporate leaders, deal-makers and innovators
Knowledge to Act
Help and Contact Us |
Advertise With Us |
Interactive TV |
Site Index |
Thomson Reuters Corporate:
Professional Products |
Professional Products Support |
About Thomson Reuters |
Latin America |
United Kingdom |
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.