Friday, January 16, 2009

Things to know about the "Conficker" or "Downadup" worm 

The extensive publicity about this piece of malware, which has infected millions of Windows PCs, usually leaves out some things you'd want to know.

For example, you might wonder how to tell if you've been infected. Symptoms include being locked out of accounts, being unable to connect to the websites of security companies, and some more technical symptoms.

Or you might wonder what to do if you are already infected. That's a problem because the worm tries to defend itself against antivirus software. The latest edition of Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool is said to be able to delete the worm.

As for protecting yourself, you're safe if you've been taking normal precautions. It won't go through a firewall, and it can only spread to computers that aren't up to date on Microsoft's security fixes.

In fact, if you'll pardon me a little flame, the fact is that Microsoft released a fix that protects against this worm back in October. They even made it one of their emergency unscheduled patches. When they do that they really mean it. Some companies do need to delay installing patches while they test them for compatibility, but come on, three months? And for home users I recommend turning on automatic updates.

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