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Conficker virus: should I be concerned?

Posted: 2009-03-31 09:33:26   Expiration: 2009-04-07 09:33:26

Disclaimer: This news item was originally posted on 2009-03-31 09:33:26. Its content may no longer be timely or accurate.

There has been a fair amount of attention paid this week to Conficker, a computer worm that surfaced in October 2008 and targets the Microsoft Windows operating system (OS). There is speculation that the virus is programmed to do further harm on Wednesday, April 1.

Last October, Microsoft released a patch to address vulnerabilities in its OS which the worm could exploit. At that time, the UW-Madison Office of Campus Information Security (OCIS) put out numerous communications encouraging campus computer users to update their Windows OS with that patch.

Present Situation

This week OCIS has taken many proactive steps to address this issue, including alerting campus IT staff about the Conficker issue and providing them access to a scanning tool to check campus machines under their control for signs of the virus. To date, 130 groups or departments have made use of the scan. (Note: OCIS cannot scan machines protected by a firewall, but those computers are likely to be at lower risk because of the presence of the firewall.) OCIS has also scanned all major campus networks (i.e., 21st Century, Wireless, ResNet) for signs of the virus and has yet to see any significant infection across these networks.

If OCIS should discover the virus, normal operating procedures will be followed and the machine will be shut off from the campus network until the virus can be removed and brought online securely.

What Users Should Do

The safe computing strategies to combat Conficker are the same as for other viruses. Users should run their anti-virus software using the latest definitions, make sure their operating systems are patched and up to date, and do a scan of any home or other computer. The OCIS web site has information on performing these functions at Under Step 11, Scan Your Computer, users can find a link to Microsoft’s Windows Live OneCare for detecting and removing viruses and spyware.

-- Chris Grosspietsch