Feeds

Conficker zombies celebrate 'activation' anniversary

Anti-climactic Downadup gets one bump

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Thursday marks the first anniversary of the much hyped Conficker trigger date. Little of note happened on 1 April 2009 and machines infected by Conficker (aka Downadup) remain largely dormant, but an estimated 6.5 million Windows PCs remain infected with the threat.

These machines are "wide open to further attacks", net security firm Symantec warns.

The rascals behind the worm remain unknown and the purpose of the malware unclear. Some in the anti-virus industry, such as Raimund Genes, CTO of Trend Micro, reckon the malware was designed to distribute scareware (fake anti-virus scanners designed to nag victims into buying software of little or no utility, often on the basis of false warnings of Trojan infection).

Machines infected with the C variant of Conficker subsequently became infected with Spyware Protect 2009 (a scareware package) and the Waledac botnet client, a factor that supports this theory. Infected machines are closely monitored by law enforcement and by members of the Conficker Working Group, a factor that goes a long way towards explaining why crooks have not used the huge botnet under their control to send spam, launch a denial of service attack or any other form of high visibility attack.

The first version of Conficker began spreading in November 2008, initially using a recently patched Microsoft Windows vulnerability to infect systems. Later its capability of jumping from infected USB sticks onto PCs or via weakly secured network shares became more important. Early victims included the Houses of Parliament, the Ministry of Defence and Manchester City Council.

More recently Greater Manchester Police, which was forced to unplug itself from the Police National Computer for five days in February in order to carry out a clean-up operation, and several hospitals in the UK were laid low by Conficker. Orla Cox, security operations manager at Symantec Security Response, said that “Conficker may not be the biggest known botnet on the block, but it still has the potential to do serious harm”.

Approximately 6.5 million systems are still infected with either the A or B variants of Conficker. The C variant, which used a P2P method of spreading, has been slowly dying out over the past year as victims clean up their systems.

Around 210,000 machines are reckoned to be infected with this variant, down from an April 2009 peak of 1.5 million victims. Another variant, Conficker-E, emerged on last April but was programmed to delete from infected systems a month later and has all but disappeared.

Symantec has published a video charting the evolution of Conficker. The clip also runs through a list of suggested countermeasures, such as keeping systems fully patched and running up to date anti-virus (natch). ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Shellshock over SMTP attacks mean you can now ignore your email
'But boss, the Internet Storm Centre says it's dangerous for me to reply to you'
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.