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OpenDNS rolls out Conficker tracking, blocking

Downadup on notice

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With an estimated 10 million PCs infected by the stealthy worm known as Conficker, it's a good bet that plenty of administrators are blissfully unaware that their networks are playing host to the pest. Now, a free service called OpenDNS is offering a new feature designed to alert administrators to the damage and help them contain it.

The company on Monday plans to introduce an addition to its offerings that makes it easy for admins to know if even a single machine has been infected by Conficker. The service will also automatically protect infected machines by preventing them from connecting to rogue servers controlled by the malware authors.

That's a pretty tall order given that Conficker, which also goes by the name Downadup, instructs its drone machines to report to 250 different internet addresses each day. Without the service, admins would have to manually block 1,750 domains each week, or 91,250 each year.

The service will also help network admins to quickly pinpoint any infected machines by checking their OpenDNS Dashboard. Starting Monday, any networks with PCs that try to connect to the Conficker addresses will be flagged on an admin's private statistics page. The service is available for free to both businesses and home users.

"The idea of blocking things on the network and doing it for consumers is a big change," said OpenDNS CTO David Ulevitch. "Overall, we think we're uniquely positioned to do this."

The service is first offered under a new botnet protection service being rolled out by OpenDNS. Up to now, the company has helped networks block phishing sites and those offering porn, social networking, videos and other content that may not be appropriate for schools, businesses or homes with young children.

"Over time, we'll probably expand this offer," Ulevitch said.

By some estimates, Conficker has infected more than 10 million PCs since it first began spreading late last year. So far, the machines haven't downloaded update software that makes them send spam, participate in attacks on websites or join a botnet, but that could change at any time simply by adding a malicious payload to any one of the 250 domain names the drones connect to each day. Conficker has the potential to spawn one of the biggest botnets ever, security experts have warned.

To avail themselves of new protection, admins must first create an account with OpenDNS. The list of blocked domains is being provided by anti-virus provider Kaspersky, which reverse-engineered Conficker so it could preemptively predict the new sites that will be used each day. ®

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