Computer experts waited early Wednesday to see what impact — if any — the worm known as Conficker.c will have on the world’s computers.
Steve Santorelli, a former Scotland Yard detective who is now director of global outreach for the Chicago, Illinois-based security research company Team Cymru said the worm authors “have amassed what is the equivalent of a major weapon that could possibly be turned against the Internet. There is lots of speculation, and that speculation leads to fear of the unknown. The only people who really know what Confiker will be used for, if anything, are the criminals behind it. The rest of us are guessing.” Mac users are in luck, since the worm is designed solely to exploit Microsoft software.
“As long as you’ve patched or at least brought your antivirus software up to speed, you should be fine,” said Chris Pirillo, a tech expert for CNN.com. And there are plenty of anti-virus software packages available. “I believe just about everybody out there,” Pirillo said, “has a removal tool.” Still, the worm can wreak havoc, he said. Unlike viruses, worms self propagate, spreading by networks. “Once it’s out there, it’s very difficult to stop,” Pirillo said.
He predicted that “the worst possible outcome” would be that some computers would run “suboptimally,” as network traffic becomes clogged. And its ability to do that is cleverly designed: Conficker.c has a feature that disables the Windows update program in the Microsoft product, keeping Windows from becoming patched, Pirillo said. It also disables the auto-update capabilities of many anti-virus software programs. Report