Virus begins attack, threat not over
On April 1, computers infected with the Conficker virus began attempting to ‘call home’ (contact their control servers) in order to receive updates.
Some felt the process would produce an apocalyptic cyber-event and result in millions of computers being wiped out or large portions of the Internet being disabled.
Nothing happened, but experts warned that Conficker still poses a threat.
‘We expect that they have achieved their aim of building a fairly bullet-proof botnet and will now’hellip; harvest credit card numbers, bank accounts and identities from as many victims as possible, and then do it all again,’ AVG Technologies’ chief research officer, Roger Thompson, said on EWeek.com.
Conficker is a computer worm that showed up in November as Conficker.A, which targeted Microsoft Windows operating system.
The worm exploits a known vulnerability in the Windows Server service used by Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 Beta.
‘It’s just like having some kid walk behind you as you go into your house and he slips in behind you,’ Gary Chelette, Systems Analyst for UH’s IT department, said. ‘You walk off and his job is to wait till somebody calls him and says, ‘Open up the doors.”
Chelette said the virus will infect anything it can find and is commonly referred to as a ‘toxic worm’, which means the virus infects everything without the computer’s owner ever knowing.
Conficker.C, the most recent variation, began checking for information to download March 31.
‘This virus has been around for several months, but like any other virus, people take it and modify it just a little bit,’ Chelette said. ‘It gets in on un-patched computers that don’t have correct anti-virus and Microsoft updates.’
Chelette said the criminal world writes these viruses and affects as many machines as possible – they can number in the millions – and once they have control of the machines, they just let the virus sit there.
Criminals will then have a map of where all these machines are, usually mapped by IP numbers, and sell blocks of these IP numbers to whoever wants to buy them, whether it be for spam, to set up botnets, to run programs through it to attack other systems, or simply to be at the command of somebody else on a whim, Chelette said.
‘The best advice I can give is to keep your anti-virus software up to date. None of the free ones work as well as the commercial ones, but we do have an anti-virus software here on campus that is free for students to use ‘- the McAfee Enterprise Edition, which is available on the UH website,’ Chelette said.
Chelette said students should set up their anti-virus software to update every day.
‘A lot of times, these worms and viruses will come in and shut down the anti-virus program. Then it will run when you reboot your computer before your anti-virus has a chance to, and make your anti-virus unable to inform you of the problem,’ he said.
Viruses are always around. The only way to avoid repercussions is to protect yourself, and keep an eye out for threats.’
On the bright side, it looks like Mac users are safe.
Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were unavailable for comment.
Matthew Keever is a communication junior and may be reached at [email protected].