Conficker: Don't Believe the Hype

You may have heard about Conficker, the rogue computer program that might do something dreadful on April 1. The truth is that the threat posed by Conficker is almost entirely theoretical, and that only a handful of dedicated professionals will notice anything out of the ordinary when that date comes around.

Conficker is the latest example of a type of malware called a botnet, which gives a cyber criminal control over an infected computer. The criminal can steal information stored on the computer or make it do things like send spam emails. In some cases, criminals amass millions of computers to command.

Researchers estimate that a couple million computers could be infected with Conficker, which makes it a large botnet, but not the largest. What sets Conficker apart is that it’s more sophisticated than any previous piece of malware. It uses a new form of cryptography, can be controlled by criminals in multiple ways, and updates itself. This scares security researchers. So does the fact that the bad guys haven’t done anything with the computers they control yet, which means they could do, well, anything.

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