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April 2009 - 2009-03-31

***Important Notice Re: CONFICKER WORM***

Many of you have heard through the news about a new virus that has surfaced on the internet called “The Conficker Worm”. A worm is a self replicating virus that spreads through private and public networks. Conficker is thought to affect almost 9 million computers attached to the internet today.

There have been rumours that Conficker will update itself on April 1st 2009 with various consequences including complete file truncation, theft of personal information, and/or phishing scams surrounding its removal. While the validity of this rumour is hard to confirm, it should be noted that Conficker has updated itself twice since its release in 2008 with very minimal consequences to the hosting computer.

Currently the easiest way for Conficker to spread is through computers with weak passwords. A weak password only contains one type of character set (ie. all lower case letters. Ex. “benson”). A strong password will contain several types of character sets (Ex. “&B3nS0n!@”). The worm can also infect computers that surf to hijacked websites with un-patched browsers, and can even spread through removable media such as USB keys or external hard drives. The easiest way to avoid these problems is to ensure you regularly check for Windows Updates, and utilise a corporate-level active anti-virus tool such as eScan Corporate.

The technical department at Benson & Associates has been following the development of this worm since its inception. We recommend strong action detecting, scanning and removing this worm from your computer systems should it be present.

There are several ways to detect and remove Conficker. Microsoft offers an online virus scanner that can be run exclusively through Internet Explorer, and Symantec offers a downloadable virus removal tool to run on your local computer.

The technical department at Benson & Associates recommends that you use one or both of the following tools to make sure your computer is not infected.