Watch Out for The April Fool’s Day Virus
By Robert McMillen, Koin’s Tech Guru
It’s coming this week! The Conficker.C (aka Downadup) virus that has been infecting computers worldwide for the past month or so has been lying dormant waiting to attack. The first version came out last year, but most computers eradicated that virus and the B version by updating their computers. Anyone with Windows Updates turned on and installed and patched to the latest level is most likely safe. If you have an antivirus program that’s up to date and working, you’re also safe. This new version C that has come out recently is estimated to have infected more than ten million computers, and one of them may be yours!
Some really smart people have been able to determine the virus will be activated on April 1st. However, they were unable to determine what will happen when it’s awakened. We have some speculations below, so read on.
If you have a Macintosh or Linux operating system on your computer, then just go have a cup of coffee. Better yet, do something that will help the economy, like leave your house and consume something.
How do you know if you’re safe? The simplest thing to do is to go to Windows Update and check to see if you have the latest patches installed. In Windows XP and older, just open Internet Explorer and go to Tools- Windows Update and Microsoft will check your computer. If you have Windows Vista, then go to your control panel and then Windows Update. You will then be told if your computer is up to date. If you have an antivirus program, then open it up and run the update and scan your computer. If the update program was able to get the latest antivirus signatures and install them then you’re safe. Check the date on the last successful update to know for sure.
If you are unable to run these updates, then you can go to this link from Symantec (aka Norton)
If you can’t get there, than go to http://trendmicro.com and in the search box type “Housecall” for a free online scan.
You can get a free desktop version of antivirus from http://download.com and type in AVG free antivirus.
If the virus keeps you from going to these sites and you have another computer, then go to these links mentioned above on the second computer and learn how to manually remove the virus, or take your computer to a Microsoft certified repair center (Email me for a list).
Symantec is saying the hype might be worse than the actual infection because of people doing searches on the internet that may lead them to other compromised sites. Those sites may cause people to download other new viruses and compound the problem. Make sure you have your Anti-Phishing filter turned on your web browser to help keep this from happening.
So, now that all the serious stuff is done, let’s talk about what might happen if you don’t check to see if you’re protected. Here are some speculations that many professionals think may happen, but no one knows for sure:
1. The infected computers may turn into zombies that start to send SPAM to sell products all over the world, causing a major internet slowdown. If your company has a mail server on your network, then you may end up getting black listed because your public IP may be sharing the IP address of your workstations that are sending out the SPAM. Then you won’t be able to send legitimate email.
2. If you have a home PC, then your internet service provider will be on the lookout for unusual traffic coming from your computer, and they may shut off your internet access.
3. The infected computers may erase everything on your computer, although this is less likely. There’s no money in it for the virus writers to do this, but you never know.
4. The added traffic from the millions of computers may make it difficult to do work online and will cause new vulnerabilities to be exposed and exploited.
Here’s what I think will happen, just because it’s April fool’s Day: Your infected computer will hack into the phone lines. It will call your boss and tell her that you’ll be out today because you have the flu. It will also say that she has stinky breath causing you to be fired. It will then Twitter your teenage daughter and tell her you don’t know why anyone likes her and she will hate you even more than she already does (as teenagers already do at this age). It will also call the golf course and change your prime tee time to 9 PM. It will reach into your wallet and hand your credit card numbers over to a 900 number calling service which will max you out over the limit. It will send your social security number to Russia where your identity will be stolen over and over by Boris and Natasha from the Bullwinkle show. It will digitally alter pictures of you in “gender incorrect clothing” and send them to all your ex’s, which will confirm everything they ever thought about you and why they no longer date you. It will make you smell bad. It will give you a new strain of Chicken Pox. In a stunning climax, it will make you think you’re Superman and cause you to jump out a window.
Whew! Wouldn’t it just be easier to make sure your updates are done, or just shut the thing off?
For more great tips, check back here and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show at 9:00 Sunday mornings on AM 1360 KUIK and at 10 AM in Seattle on KOL, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com.
If you would like your technical question answered here, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if it doesn’t get answered in the column, I will always answer by email.