The highly publicized Conficker worm has a new version that is assumed to trigger on April 1st. There are a few steps you should take right now.
First, back up any important data. This is just plain sound advice, regardless of viruses, worms, etc. A hard drive crash can destroy data.
Make sure that the Windows Security Center is working. Check on the status on your firewall and antivirus software. If you do not know how to do this, then get some help, and learn. Despite all the marketing materials from all kinds of security companies, you really can’t safely use the internet if you won’t learn some computer basics.
If you don’t have antivirus, and no, Windows Defender is not antivirus, then get some. We have a fine product here at ESET, but if you want to go the free route, just make sure that the product you choose is tested by Virus Bulletin (www.virusbulletin.com). There are some fake programs that instead infect your computer. For paid programs, they should either be tested by Virus Bulletin or certified by ICSA Labs <http://www.icsalabs.com/icsa/icsahome.php> or have West Coast labs Checkmark certification <http://www.westcoastlabs.org/>.
Find the author of the program… Hey, Microsoft is offering a $250,000 reward!!! Well, perhaps you better first make sure your computer is secure.
Conficker.C is a pretty nasty piece of malware. In addition to disabling the Windows security center and automatic updates, it is reported to prevent booting into safe mode and to delete system restore points. It has a few other nasty tricks up its sleeve too, like disabling lots of other security software.
Before you hyperventilate over this one though, remember, there are thousands of other threats out there as well. If you are taking the right steps to keep your computer secure, then Conficker.C will be no riskier to you than the other threats you have not been getting infected with. If you aren’t sure if you are doing the right things then now might be a great time to check out <http://www.staysafeonline.org> for some easy to digest security education.
As always, if you have general security questions, you can send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET