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Conficker virus: one day to go


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Conficker virus: one day to go

Computer experts have one day left before they discover whether the worm virus Conficker will wreak havoc on April 1.

Concerns have been raised that hackers could take advantage of more than 15 million computers that have been infected with the virus.

The latest version of the virus has been programmed to instruct infected computers to carry out a particular act on April 1, although internet experts have been unable to determine what.

It is still not known whether the perceived threat posed by the virus, variously known as Conficker, Downadup, and Kido, will actually turn out to be the biggest ever internet April Fool's joke.

The virus buries itself deep inside a PC's Windows operating system, from where it can be used by hackers to steal users' passwords and personal information, including bank details.

It sets up files and starts downloading information from a controlling server, and infected PCs then form a network and can "talk" to each other, updating and evolving.

Experts believe that from midnight on April 1, the Conficker program will start scanning thousands of websites for a new set of instructions telling it what to do next.

If they were told to simultaneously connect to a single website, the network of infected "robot computers" could knock it offline by deluging it with hits.

These so-called Botnets have been used in the past to generate millions of pieces of spam email and to blackmail websites by threatening to temporarily knock them out.

Graham Cluley, an analyst with internet security company Sophos, told the Guardian that it was difficult to predict what havoc the virus would bring on Wednesday.

He said: "It's a brave man who puts his neck out like that. For what it's worth, we have never seen earlier versions of the Conficker worm downloading a malicious payload."

He added that the April Fool's Day deadline could be an attempt to misdirect the attention of security professionals and computer users

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