Conficker Removal? First is Conficker activation...

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Conficker Removal? First is Conficker activation...

Kevin R. Smith

What's in store for us on April 1st 2009 with the Conficker worm?

If your computer has been infected with Conficker/Downandup, there's still time before the so-called Conficker activation date for you to remove Conficker.

Why the urgency?

According to the security researchers who've looked at the innards of the Conficker worm, April 1, 2009, is the date programmed into Conficker for it to activate.

What then?

Called one of the most sophisticated viruses/worms/trojans ever, Conficker's purpose remains murky and its removal still somewhat of a tricky, delicate process. (See below for details on manual removal details from Symantec.)

What happens when it does activate is a real mystery. Is it some sort of a criminal enterprise network? Or perhaps just some sort of a "little" joke.

There are a lot of educated guesses being floated, many of which are in this New York Times piece on the Conficker activation.

Which theory is right? Who knows. Perhaps it's a multi-faceted tool and many of the theories are right. With the sophistication already shown by the worm, it's unlikely this is just some prank and likely that it will remain a problem for some time.

As for removing Conficker, as the piece points out,
"It is possible to detect and remove Conficker using commercial antivirus tools offered by many companies. However, the most recent version of the program has a significantly improved capacity to remove commercial antivirus software and to turn off Microsoft’s security update service. It can also block communications with Web services provided by security companies to update their products. It even systematically opens holes in firewalls in an effort to improve its communication with other infected computers."

How to Remove Conficker / Downandup

For more information on detecting it, here's the Microsoft Conficker detection tool and Symantec instructions on how to manually remove Conficker.

Bear in mind, too, that given Conficker's sophistication, it's quite possible for your computer to be infected and for you to not know it. That said, I encourage you to read the various articles on the worm and familiarize yourself with it or at very least make sure you're running current antivirus software and that your antivirus signatures are updated.

If you're unsure if yours is up to the task, our reviews of the best antivirus software have just been updated for 2009 so you can easily see how your antivirus protection stacks up against other software.


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