April 1, 2009

Cornficker Worm on April Fool's Day

April Fools day. The day the Internet was to stand still.

(CNN) -- A computer-science detective story is playing out on the Internet as security experts try to hunt down a worm called Conficker C and prevent it from damaging millions of computers on April Fool's Day.

This piece of computer code tells the worm to activate on April 1, 2009, researchers at CA found. The anti-worm researchers have banded together in a group they call the Conficker Cabal. Members are searching for the malicious software program's author and for ways to do damage control if he or she can't be stopped.

They're motivated in part by a $250,000 bounty from Microsoft and also by what seems to be a sort of Dick Tracy ethic.

"We love catching bad guys," said Alvin Estevez, CEO of Enigma Software Group, which is one of many companies trying to crack Conficker. "We're like former hackers who like to catch other hackers. To us, we get almost a feather in our cap to be able to knock out that worm. We slap each other five when we're killing those infections."

The malicious program already is thought to have infected between 5 million and 10 million computers.

Those infections haven't spawned many symptoms, but on April 1 a master computer is scheduled to gain control of these zombie machines, said Don DeBolt,
director of threat research for CA, a New York-based IT and software company.

What happens on April Fool's Day is anyone's guess.

I don't know if my computer has been zombified but I don't see anything unusual. So, this is just like Y2K when the nuclear missiles were all supposed to launch and the world was supposed to end. Or like global warming was supposed to melt the earth within a few years?

Look there's are serious issues around cyber-security and national cyber-security especially considering the Chinese are deliberately working on cyber-warefare methods and plan for it to be part of any future foreign conflict they are involved in. But the hysteria around Cornficker is just the latest example of over-hype. It may be better to be safe than sorry, but usually patches and anti-virus updates are prepared in time and panicking never helps anything.

Just my two cents on that.

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