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By Alex Hamlyn

You got Conficker? OH NOES! It’s OK, all is not lost. With a little help from The Eyeopener, your computer will be worm-free in no time.

April 1 didn’t usher in an era of Terminator- esque blood-thirsty machine mayhem. But Conficker, the latest Internet spanning piece of malware, is still out there, waiting. It’s well designed, tough to beat and contagious.

Before going to digital war it’s important to be educated about your foe.

A worm is a kind of virus that exists on its own, as opposed to most viruses which often attach themselves to a specific file. Worms also replicate themselves, and use networks to spread themselves to other computers. Many worms install programs as they spread that can delete files, disable anti-virus and firewall software or, as it the case with Conficker, they create “zombie” computers. These zombie computers form their own networks called botnets. These networks are at the command of the worm’s author, and are often used to spread spam or overload websites. By doing this, hackers can avoid being tracked by using unrelated computers all around the world.

Conficker D, the name of the latest variation of Conficker, does all this, and it does it in supervillain-style. It’s designed to form a massive network of infected computers to pass files along, similar to how BitTorrent works. This is how Conficker gets its instructions. If even one infected computer is still active, the network can be activated.

It also does scary stuff like disabling anti-spyware and anti-virus software, and resetting your computer’s system restore point so it’s not possible to restore to a pre-Conficker state.

That doesn’t mean Conficker is an unstoppable juggernaut though. All major anti-virus companies have released updates that should find and eliminate the worm. The Windows security hole that it exploited has also been patched by Microsoft, so even if you don’t have Conficker, it’s important to grab the latest security patches.

If you suspect your computer has been infected, download a Conficker removal tool (Google “W32.Downadup removal tool”) and disconnect your internet. Any of the Conficker removal sites should have easy to follow instructions on how to remove it, but disconnecting the internet is key to keep it from re-infecting your computer immediately. Afterward, connect to the internet and update your anti-virus software. If this works, you should be Conficker free and able to clear your computer of any remaining infection.

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