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White paper details the history of the Conficker worm

BitDefender UK : 09 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
With the Conficker worm having posed a significant threat since 2008 and that threat set to grow during 2010, BitDefender charts the progress of this malicious code and offers advice on how to avoid it
BitDefender has published a whitepaper detailing the history of the Conficker worm since its first appearance in November 2008, the damage it has done, and predictions on how it will spread in 2010. Conficker is a well-written piece of malware that has the potential to cause a lot of damage with the intelligent manner in which it updates itself. BitDefender's 'Conficker - One Year After' whitepaper also provides tips on how readers can keep their systems protected from the worm.

Conficker (aka Downadup or Kido) is a network worm that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows in order to spread. Its main purpose is to compromise as many machines as possible by exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows RPC Server Service, described in the Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067. The vulnerability allows a cybercriminal to remotely execute code onto an unprotected machine.

Since its inception, there have been numerous variants of the Conficker worm. Some variants use the exploitation of the Autorun function for removable drives and media (such as USB portable storage devices) to spread, while others take advantage of weak passwords to infiltrate networks. Another variant disables Microsoft Windows Update and blocks access to the majority of internet security vendor websites, which means users cannot access automatic or manual security updates.

Although Microsoft offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the identities of the cybercriminals behind Conficker, the worm continues to wreak havoc. BitDefender researchers predict that Conficker will become an even bigger threat in 2010 by:

* The corruption of defensive systems -Conficker will completely neutralise defensive systems and will leave dangerous security internet breaches on user networks.

* Distributed denial of service - By paralysing computers over the internet, Conficker will prevent the access to particular websites for extended periods of time.

* Pay-per-click system abuse and fraud - Conficker will be used to visit specific websites and will automatically "click" on advertisement banners with the intent of obtaining information for financial gain .

* Key logging, traffic monitoring and mass identity theft - Conficker, like many botnets, will be programmed to monitor keyboard activity and collect keystrokes to gain access to users' personal information.

* Spamming - Conficker will harvest e-mail addresses, which will be used to send massive amounts of spam messages to other computers.

BitDefender's Catalin Cosoi provides readers with tips for keeping their systems protected from Conficker and other malware threats. Cosoi's tips include:

* Check with your operating system provider on a regular basis - download and install the latest security updates, malware removal tools, as well as other patches or fixes.

* Update your anti malware, firewall and spam filter as often as possible, with the latest virus definitions and suspicious applications/files signatures.

* Install and activate a reliable password protected anti malware, firewall, spam filter and parental control solution.

* Scan your system frequently.

* Stay informed about e-threats and security breaches.
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