As April 1 deadline looms, researchers advance on Confiker worm

As April 1 deadline looms, researchers advance on Confiker worm San Francisco - Researchers have discovered the first easy way to detect the presence of the Conficker computer worm on networked computers, just days before the worm is scheduled to morph into a new form that could seriously compromise millions of computers, PC magazine reported Monday.

Approximately 10 million computers are believed to be infected by the Conficker virus, which is programmed to contact its creators on April 1 and receive new instructions that could create a massive spam-spewing botnet, or other actions that could compromise millions more machines.

The deadline has prompted fears of a Y2K-like occurrence, though most experts say that similar to the meltdown fears at the turn of the century, COnficker's April 1 deadline will hardly be noticed by most computer users.

The virus can infect PC's running Microsoft's Windows operating system, but Microsoft issued a patch to fix the vulnerability last October. However millions of computers that are running pirated versions of Windows are unpatched.

Computers on corporate networks are also thought to be vulnerable, because of the difficulties faced by system administrators in identifying and neutralizing the Conficker worm.

According to PC magazine, researchers have now found a way to identify infected computers on the network. The technique works by identifying unusual error messages that are generated when infected computers are contacted over a network. The report said that major enterprise security software systems such as those from McAfee and nCircle have been updated with the new information. (dpa)

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