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One Year On For the Downadup/Conficker Threat

Symantec : 30 March, 2010  (Technical Article)
With the 1st April Looming, Symantec takes a look at the Conficker threat and speculates whether the risk still exists one year later
This week is the one-year anniversary of the Downadup/Conficker threat's April 1, 2009 "trigger" date. Although, Conficker did not turn into a widespread threat or cause the significant damage it had the potential to inflict, one year later, we know that those behind Downadup/Conficker still potentially have the keys to some 6.5 million of these computers. These computers have not been fixed by their owners, leaving them open to be victimized at any time by cybercriminals.

While 6.5 million infected computers remain wide open to further attack, they are monitored very closely by law enforcement and by members of the Conficker Working Group. Should the criminal(s) attempt to use them, the alarm will sound. For the criminals holding the keys, too much attention may be a turn off and it will likely prevent them from carrying out their original malicious plans.

So, are we out of the woods in terms of Downadup/Conficker?

"Probably not" said Orla Cox, Security Operations Manager at Symantec Security Response. "Downadup/Conficker may not be the biggest known Botnet on the block, but it still has the potential to do serious harm. Industry groups and law enforcement are being vigilant but the 6.5 million infected PC are very much so like a loaded gun, waiting to go off."

Here's what we know today:

* Approximately 6.5 million systems are still infected with either the .A or .B variants.
* The .C variant, which used a peer-2-peer method of propagating, has been slowly dying out over the past year. From a high of nearly 1.5 million infections in April of 2009, the infection rate has steadily decreased to between 210,000 to 220,000 infections. This indicates some computer users are fixing the issue and getting rid of the infection.
* Symantec also observed another variant, .E, released on April 8, 2009, but this variant deleted itself from infected systems on or after May 3, 2009.
* Thus far, the machines still infected with Downadup/Conficker have not been utilized for any significant criminal activity, but with an army of nearly 6.5 million computers strong, the threat remains a viable one.

Symantec has put together the following video highlighting the evolution of Downadup/Conficker to help give computer users background on the threat and information about where it is today
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