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Protect Your Windows PC from the Conficker Worm





The Conficker
worm has infected millions of Windows computers—and is set to be
unleashed on April 1st, 2009. Here's what you need to know to keep
yourself safe.





What is the Conficker Worm?


Microsoft released an update
in October to resolve a critical security hole in the Windows "Server"
service. Since people aren't as diligent about patching as they should
be, hackers created a new worm
that spread like wildfire, leaving systems completely under their
control. Security researchers have determined that the virus is
expected to go "live" on April 1st, 2009, causing your computer to do
bad things—but since the worm uses a P2P protocol it's nearly
impossible to identify the source.

How Does It Spread?


The worm originally started spreading using a network attack against the file sharing
services in Windows, but since it can automatically update itself, it
adapted to spread through the autoplay feature on removable media like
USB thumb drives, by adding a new option to open where you see
"publisher not specified". This allows the worm to spread to systems
already patched against the original vulnerability, so using anti-virus
software is even more important, because once it's on your computer it
can spread further.
Is My Computer Affected?


Most anti-virus software has already been able to detect and remove
the Conficker worm for a while now, so you are probably not at risk as
long as you keep up with your updates and have real-time scanning
enabled.
To actually detect and remove the worm, you can use the freely available Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool that can remove a large number of viruses—for a full guide, See an article on how to scan and remove malicious viruses.
How Do I Stay Safe?


Staying safe from this, and many other viruses and worms, requires a
combination of keeping your computer updated and using anti-virus
software. Here's a couple of quick tips to follow:


Keeping your system and your data safe is extremely important, so make
sure to take some time out of your day to keep your system patched,
updated, and virus-free. Hit the link for Microsoft's explanation of
the situation, or check out my article on scanning and removing malicious viruses for the walk-through approach.
Protect yourself from the Conficker computer worm [Microsoft]

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