April 1st Conficker Worm Activates – What You Should Know and What to Do
It must be a slow news month, but the media is absolutely eating up this Conficker virus. Why? Because it’s pulling the old 1990’s “on this popular holiday X, this virus will activate and wipe your hard drive or do some other dastardly deed” schtick. This worm / virus has been out for about six months now. People on Yahoo! Answers are spreading all sorts of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about how this Conficker worm is going to turn the entire interwebs into a giant computer zombie army and bring the world to a stand-still, and how your antivirus program can’t detect it. I’m here to dispell all of that FUD, because I feel like it’s my duty as a tech guy.
What you need to know:
- The Conficker worm / virus can be caught the same way any other virus can, the infection methods are not special.
- It is unlikely that between Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool and a good antivirus program like Symantec or AVG or Avast, that you will not detect it if it has infected you (provided you have latest definitions and run a scan).
- Internet Service Providers have ways of detecting high-volume spamming computers and unusual network activity, so if your computer does become a zombie, they’ll probably temporarily disconnect your internet access while you work out getting that cleaned off. We will not be seeing any world-wide massive intarwebz shutdowns.
How to Make Sure You’re Not Infected:
- Run Windows Update, let it install any updates available (especially security updates) and the Malicious Software Removal Tool. It will run after installed and scan and remove any malware, then uninstall itself.
- Make sure you have a good antivirus program with latest updates (definitions, software, etc.) – try AVG or Avast! – those two are my favorite that can be had for free. Run a full system scan, and usually there are directions on the screen when it finds something bad it needs you to remove.
If your virus scan and the Microsoft scan come up with nothing, you can probably breathe easy for now. Follow safe computing practices and don’t go to sites you know you shouldn’t be at, and don’t click on banner ads for things that sound too good to be true.
Mac OS X users: breathe easy. You actually aren’t affected by 99.9% of all viruses and spyware. You should also practice safe computing practices just to make sure people don’t steal your password or credit card information. If you’re extra paranoid and have memory to spare, they do make Symantec Antivirus for Mac, just in case.
What if I’m STILL not sure?
I’m not one to make people unnecessarily go out and seek technical support from someone like me, especially in this economy. But when you’re in absolute uncertainty, you can help out your local computer guy by hiring him to come take an hour at his rate and give your computer a once-over to make sure you’re okay. If they’re like me, they may even have a special rate for general system clean-up / virus removal. It’ll give you peace of mind in this crazy world.