Well, April Fool’s Day came and went, and so far we haven’t seen “Cyber-Armageddon.”
You probably heard that a terrible virus was due to be released on April 1, but so far, you haven’t seen any hiccups while buying a new book, sending a Tweet, or checking opening day baseball scores.
Are you in the clear? Maybe. But let’s take a minute to look at the real facts regarding the Conflicker virus and how it may or may not affect your computer.
This specific virus has actually been around for quite some time. It is a “sleeper cell” virus: terminology that likely invokes images of terrorists in your mind.
If so, the terminology has done its job — the perpetrators behind this virus are indeed cyber-terrorists. In a very simplified explanation, the virus infects computers, gains control of their functions, and uses them as pawns in some greater scheme. Infected computers will likely never know that they are mere drones, sending information on behalf of a master computer.
We aren’t sure what the end-game is yet, it is hard to predict the behavior of cyber-terrorists. One thing is certain, however, it won’t be some philanthropic attempt to rid the world of evil — these guys love to spread fear, anxiety and credit card information.
Our machines may be infected with the Conflicker virus, even if we see no difference in our computer’s performance. Their plan is to create an atmosphere of comfort while silently perpetrating a great crime behind the scenes.
“The people behind this piece of code are very skilled, very well-informed and resourced. They have invested much time ... and will be aiming to see some return on that investment,” wrote Trend Micro senior security adviser Rik Ferguson. “Making so much noise that every victim knows they’re infected will have entirely the opposite effect.”
So what now? There are many people working on your team to ensure that this challenge can be resolved.
Thanks to early detection, Microsoft has been able to develop a patch that will effectively inoculate your computer against this virus. A $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators has forced these cyber-crooks back into their caves, for the moment, and bought us a little time. While we have a little breathing room, it is vital that we take steps to protect our computers.
As a free service to the community, Computer Problem Specialists has written a script that will run the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool on your computer and automatically install the MS08067 patch.
It couldn’t be any easier. Go to http://computerproblemspecialists.com/freescan for this free service (and peace of mind).
Now is not the time to panic. It’s also not the time for inaction; we need to move quickly to ensure the safety of our individual machines and the security of the global Internet. With the right steps, we’ll play our own April Fool’s trick — and give the Conflicker guys nowhere to go.
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.