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After 1 Year, Conficker Infects 7M Computers 95

alphadogg writes "The Conficker worm has passed a dubious milestone. It has now infected more than 7 million computers, security experts estimate. On Thursday, researchers at the volunteer-run Shadowserver Foundation logged computers from more than 7 million unique IP addresses, all infected by the known variants of Conficker. They have been able to keep track of Conficker infections by cracking the algorithm the worm uses to look for instructions on the Internet and placing their own 'sinkhole' servers on the Internet domains it is programmed to visit. Conficker has several ways of receiving instructions, so the bad guys have still been able to control PCs, but the sinkhole servers give researchers a good idea how many machines are infected."
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After 1 Year, Conficker Infects 7M Computers

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  • Ding! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mazda6s ( 904056 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:07PM (#29930609)
  • Cleaning job (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Acapulco ( 1289274 )
    Is there a way for the researchers to use the sinkhole to clean the worm?

    Maybe they can inject instructions to the worm so it shutsdown but not before it spreads the "fix" to other computers? So along counting the number of PC's infected they also help in cleaning the worm. Impossible?
    • Re:Cleaning job (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:15PM (#29930671)

      Maybe they can inject instructions to the worm so it shutsdown but not before it spreads the "fix" to other computers?

      Conficker is notable because it isn't a total piece of script kiddie crap. It uses asymmetric crypto to only accept instructions from the creator. It also patches the hole on the way in, so you couldn't even reinfect Conficked boxes with a cleaner.

      • Wow. I didn't know that.

        So apparently the creators did a good job with it. Impressive.
      • I wonder, how much resources it will take to crack the crypto, say if the govt or the NSA wants to do it?
        • Re:Cleaning job (Score:4, Informative)

          by migla ( 1099771 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:40PM (#29930879)

          That would depend on whether the authors chose encryption that could be decrypted in a billion years with the combined computing power of today or if they chose some smaller number or a larger one.

          • Or a few seconds if you believe D-Wave []. (Don't believe D-wave, it's a well-funded scam.)
            • Besides everyone knows that Seatec Astronomy will beat the pants off them in a year or so.

            • How exactly is it a scam? By not elaborating I think you're actually just doing them a favour, because 1) it is possible to crack encryption incredibly fast with quantum computers, and 2) they are developing quantum computers. So all you've made me think is "cool".

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                They have yet to demonstrate that their device is capable of quantum computation. Rather than address that they've made it compute with larger registers of bits but don't seem to have ever verified that an "answer" from it is correct; it could be spitting out classical random numbers for all anyone knows. Furthermore, the guys who developed the theory for an adiabatic quantum computer (the type of computer that D-Wave is making) say D-Wave doesn't seem to understand the theory and can't possibly be making t
              • by skeeto ( 1138903 )
                Computation speed is only part of the problem. [] Even with the fastest possible computer there wouldn't be enough energy available to brute force a 128-bit symmetric key in a reasonable amount of time.
          • They took encryption seriously. The authors have implemented Ron Rivest's research algorithm MD6.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shentino ( 1139071 )

        It's not just that.

        Being a good samaratin like that often fails because of the risk you'll mess up and get slammed with a lawsuit. Simply by participating in the affair you become jointly and severally liable if anything goes wrong.

        • by xant ( 99438 )

          From my easy chair, and sitting in front of my uninfectable Linux computer, I say go for it and clean those suckers up. (Once you figure out how, that is.) We're all rooting for you!

          Oh, but you might want to do it anonymously.

          • Just to preempt the trolls: "ZOMG, LINUX ALSO HAS A FEW BOTNETS"

            There, done, it was barely a a thousandth of a %. This is probably 2%.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I would cite the various "good samaritan" laws, as well as implied consent. The braindead gave implied consent to have viral infections cleaned from their computers by having an infection to start with.

          FFS - everyone worries about being sued, so they do nothing. You bet your arse, if I were smart enough to program the virus to self destruct, I would do so in an instant. No thoughts about being sued, period.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by linguizic ( 806996 )
      Wasn't that an episode of Stargate SG-1?
      • by migla ( 1099771 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:35PM (#29930837)

        I don't know if that was an episode of SG1, but you sig does remind me of Agatha Christie.

      • No, computer virii in SG-1 don't need a network connection.

        •     The one that infected all the stargates did. It was .. aw heck .. the last Goa'uld guy. The mediocre badguy. It used the stargates automatic update network to reprogram all the gates. They used that plot device twice. The others that they had in the show propagated what ever way was easy to show. Didn't one go through the power lines?


    • Re:Cleaning job (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:46PM (#29930921)

      Is there a way for the researchers to use the sinkhole to clean the worm?

      Probably not.

      But YOU CAN HELP:

      Just Click the the CornFlicker Eye Chart to test your machine: []

      You can read about it in the link posted in TFA.

      • by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:32PM (#29931913)

        Probably not.
        But YOU CAN HELP:
        Just Click the the CornFlicker Eye Chart to test your machine:

        Do you think I'm some kind of patsy? I'm not getting suckered into your virus propagation scam!

        • by icebike ( 68054 )


          Wise move.

          That's why I referred you to the same link at
          the side of panel of the Linked page in TFA.

      • by mhollis ( 727905 )

        Doesn't appear to have infected my Mac. :P

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Is there a way for the researchers to use the sinkhole to clean the worm?
      Maybe they can inject instructions to the worm so it shutsdown but not before it spreads the "fix" to other computers? So along counting the number of PC's infected they also help in cleaning the worm. Impossible?

      If you just sniff traffic, that doesn't mean you can inject instructions. And even if, how do you make sure *you* don't ruin the users computers? It is a ethical problem as soon as you mess with other peoples machines; These Botnet hijackers [] explain that too.
      So, no, researchers are not going to do that. Also, too complex technically.

    • by xant ( 99438 )

      Figure out how to trace a significant percentage of those IPs to their IP blocks to their ISPs. Notify the ISPs. Start a coalition among them to shut off infected customers with a message explaining why and how to fix. Start an advertising campaign to get public support for this and help pressure ISPs to join even though it is not in their short-term self-interest; sell it to them as good PR at this point. Ask them to send a coupon to customers who disinfect, with prorated hours to reimburse the custom

      • Haven't I read this suggestion elsewhere? Are you a plegiarist? WTF?!?!

        Alright, I'm not being fair. The solution is so obvious, hundreds of people have suggested it here and elsewhere, and thousands more will do so. But, the obvious, easy, simple solution will never gain traction. Someone has to make money, or the solution will never be implemented. I'm afraid we'll have to incorporate a couple charges into the scheme. Save the children, save the baby seals, and buy a carbon credit, THEN is will work

    • It is likely a legal liability that would crush the researchers. Even if Conficker did the damage the researchers could be held liable because the courts have juries of non-technical people to render "justice". This is why many many technical lawsuits get settled at the last minute. The balance of evidence is continually weighed and after it reaches some presumed tipping point the parties settle. (Well the big guys, small fry are just outspent and they lose).

      I'd love to have a reverse DNS service that retu
  • Action not words! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by basketcase ( 114777 )

    Are these researchers doing anything about it? Have they handed the IP lists with timestamps over to the appropriate ISPs or corporate network administrators so that the infected systems can be dealt with? Did they even put up a page where you can check yourself or your network?

    Merely counting the infected is nothing but mental masturbation. Even the lame government census has moved beyond simply counting.

  • I'm safe! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dword ( 735428 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:22PM (#29930731)
    I've read that Antivirus 2009 removes conflicker, so I have installed it. Now I have to get rid of the other viruses I'm getting warnings about and for that I only need
    • Cyber Security
    • Alpha Antivirus
    • Braviax
    • Windows Police Pro
    • Antivirus Pro 2010
    • PC Antispyware 2010
    • FraudTool.MalwareProtector.d
    • Green AV
    • Windows Protection Suite
    • Total Security 2009
    • Windows System Suite
    • Antivirus BEST
    • System Security
    • Personal Antivirus
    • System Security 2009
    • Malware Doctor
    • Antivirus System Pro
    • WinPC Defender
    • Anti-Virus-1
    • Spyware Guard 2008
    • System Guard 2009
    • Antivirus 2010
    • Antivirus Pro 2009
    • Antivirus 360
    • MS Antispyware 2009


    • A Unix-based operating system (such as OS X or Ubuntu)
    • by magsol ( 1406749 )
      Or the abacus!
    • Please somebody mod parent as funny. I don't want anyone reading it to think that that spyware is ACTUALLY a virus remover.... :(

      • Re:I'm safe! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by maxume ( 22995 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:35PM (#29930841)

        It's too bad there isn't a tiresome mod.

      • This is Slashdot, not Yahoo Answers. I doubt anyone who frequents this site would read that and think "Oh my! I'll get to downloading AV2009 right away!" (and single posts don't come up on Google queries unless they're oddly specific.)
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          This is Slashdot, not Yahoo Answers. I doubt anyone who frequents this site would read that and think "Oh my! I'll get to downloading AV2009 right away!" (and single posts don't come up on Google queries unless they're oddly specific.)

          Don't fool yourself. A few years ago saying "This is Slashdot" would have meant something but today it really doesn't. For as much as people around here pissed on Digg the fact is that the Digg mentality is alive and well at Slashdot. This is not the technogeek site that most people make it out to be. Heavy tech sites kick the shit out of Slashdot and Slashdot is becoming more like the gossip section of a local newspaper.

          So, no. I don't trust users here to be that smart. The fact that posts

          • I agree. There hasn't been any sort of posting concerning the Japanese Linux Symposium yet and the event is nearly over. I also note that the "Torvolds thumbs up" hasn't been posted either.

            • Thank god the Torvolds thumbs up hasn't been posted. That shits something for the comments section, not a goddamn article. Fuck Digg.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by icebike ( 68054 )

      Half the things you listed are malware themselves.

      But your point is well taken regarding just about any flavor of Linux or OSX.

      When Windows 7, fresh out of the box from Redmond nags you go get an antivirus that says something right there.

      First it says Microsoft has no confidence in the ability of this version to stop any malware.

      Second it transfers blame to a sketchy industry that had grown up based on a dodgy OS, and actually lobbied Microsoft not to lock them out, demanding the same holes in the OS that a

      • Re:I'm safe! (Score:5, Informative)

        by dword ( 735428 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:33PM (#29931207)
        <quote>Half the things you listed are malware themselves.</quote>
        Half? They're ALL malware (except for the last one, of course ;)

        Proud and happy user of Windows 7, OS X and Ubuntu
      • " ... Half the things you listed are malware themselves. ..."

        Actually, every one is malware. He was trying to make a point ... or a joke ... or both.

      • Win7 (and for that matter, Vista and even XP) DO NOT need anti-virus*. The ignorant monkeys who use them need anti-virus. Hell, the same is even true on OS X - it turns out there are people out there who are big enough Mac fanboys that they'll pirate iLife. Guess what - pirated versions of iLife have started coming with trojans in them, enough that a botnet composed exclusively of Macs running this malware now exists (small relative to Conficker, but nonetheless a serving to illustrate the point). Had those

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      So, you're saying users can't download malware and install on Unix based systems? Why not? The system protects users from installing software?
      • Re:I'm safe! (Score:4, Informative)

        by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <> on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:18PM (#29931133) Homepage Journal
        Argue all you want, but you can't deny that such malware is a whole lot less likely to download and install itself on a Unix-based system.
      • by grumbel ( 592662 )

        The system protects users from installing software?

        Linux does or at least makes it quite complicated to do so. Its one of the nice side-effects of having a package management system, that is incapable of handling non-root installations and doesn't have real support for third-party software, forcing the average user to pick all their software from the distributions repository instead of random webpages.

        If a user manually adds new repositories or goes onto manually ./configure && make'ing things, than he is of course no better of then in Windows.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        It's not so much can't. It is naturally possible to purposefully infect your Unix machine, it's just that the system design doesn't set you up for failure.

        The various UIs in Linux just don't make it easy to accidentally run a trojan, such as (for example) bodacious-tatas.jpg.exe. by treating users as if they might be too stupid to deal with seeing the entire actual filename. Then there's not being saddled with a legacy of expecting people to have administrative rights all the time.

        Finally, there's no market

      • A Unix-based operating system (such as OS X or Ubuntu)

      Oh no, didn't you hear? Linux isn't safe any more either :-)! []

      But it's OK, most of those spyware protection programs are available on Linux as well! The link above shows how to install Windows Police Pro!

  • Not really 7m at all (Score:5, Informative)

    by Yobgod Ababua ( 68687 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:27PM (#29930775)

    Everyone should read the original page, particularly the Introduction and section explaining how to interpret their population numbers.
    Here's a relevant quote:

    "The daily numbers should represent the potential maximum level of the infection, but in previous test cases usually prove to be much less than that maximum. So, take the range of 25% to 75% of the values that we display as the possible infection population and you will be close to the real value."

    So the people actually providing these numbers are really saying that the current number of infections is likely to be between 1,750,000 and 5,250,000.

  • Conflicker? (Score:3, Funny)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:03PM (#29931059) Homepage Journal
    Its name should be Legion by now.
  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:13PM (#29931109)

    Conficker broke 7 Million Infections...
    Microsoft just released Windows 7...

    Has anyone ever seen Conficker and Windows 7 in the same room together?

    • XP is going out of support. It's time to upgrade right away []!
      • Going out of support ... in 5 years ...

      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        XP is going out of support. It's time to upgrade right away! (link to Mac ad)

        You know, I've seen quite a few bad Windows flaws, but to be honest, I can't think of any that top the recent flaw OS X had where logging into the guest account on the system would erase the contents of your home folder... I really can't think of any Windows flaws that were that destructive or even came close to it.

        Worst hilarious part is: This is the second time this flaw occurred on OS X.

        • Re:Good point (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 31, 2009 @02:07AM (#29932493)

          Second time? Citation needed, seriously.

          Apart from self-contained data loss bugs that corrupt single files or bork their own data, the only difference between them is the identity of the data affected--deleting your user folder is no more or less "destructive" than deleting the Program Files folder or the System32 folder or any other combination of important data.

          More to the point, you have a short and selective memory. On the Windows side, the number of data loss bugs in the Microsoft KB is staggering--many of which far more easily triggered than the Snow Leopard bug (which PC World was unable to reproduce). There have been plenty of famous and significant data loss bugs in Windows' history, like the Windows 98SE shutdown bug, the Windows 2000 ATA bug, and even the Windows XP bug that ate the user data folders, quite similar to the Snow Leopard bug: [].

          How about the similar data loss bug in the Linux kernel a few years ago: []. A simple Google search will reveal several more, before and since, in the kernel and in distribution packages.

          Then there's the infamous Mozilla bug that wiped out the entire Program Files directory on Windows: []

          It's not just user-level software development, either. Just look at Intel's repeated data loss bugs in their SSDs.

          All the big names have let a bug like this slip at one time or another. It's unfortunate, but inevitable.

          • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

            Second time? Citation needed, seriously.

            It was back in 10.1 I think, I can't be assed to Google it and shift through the billion issues OS X had back then.

            There have been plenty of famous and significant data loss bugs in Windows' history, like the Windows 98SE shutdown bug

            That was not a win98 bug, that was harddrive manufacturers building faulty harddrives that said "yes, I've written everything", when it was still in the harddrive caches, so Windows would power off the machine and the data would never end

  • congratulations conficker!!! let's throw a party for our obediently waiting for the operator-to-hit-the-big-red-button-soldier-overlords
  • I hate my linux box for not letting me have this shiny thingy. It is a new trend - 7mil users and growing. I want one too!!!

  • So disappointing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ndogg ( 158021 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nrohr.eht]> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @03:44AM (#29932769) Homepage Journal

    I know I'm a terrible person for thinking this, but I was really curious about the chaos that was to ensue once Conficker's creators brought the hammer down.


    Alright, so hell is that way, right? --->

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was really curious about the chaos that was to ensue once Conficker's creators brought the hammer down.

      The most effective pathogens are the ones that keep their host alive as long as possible, because then they have best chances of re-infecting the healthy. BotNets are no different. If you "bring the hammer down," you lose everything.

      This is the reason why influenza is a far more dangerous killer than, say, Ebola.

  • If they are basing 7 million PCs on 7 million unique ips, then surely there are likely many more than 7 million pcs infected, as each ip will represent one home router that is broadcasting to all the pcs in that home. And if one is infected, id say its fairly likely that all the rest are infected too, so id multiply that 7 million by the average number of pcs in a household.
    • Keep in mind that almost every household router has a dynamic ip address, so one router could account for many ips over time easily.
  • A computer worm that spreads through low security networks, memory sticks, and PCs without the latest security updates is posing a growing threat to users blitheringly stupid enough [] to still think Windows is not ridiculously and unfixably insecure by design.

    Despite many years’ warnings that Microsoft regards security as a marketing problem and has only ever done the absolute minimum it can get away with, millions of users who click on any rubbish they see in the hope of pictures of female tennis stars having wardrobe malfunctions still fail to believe that taking Windows out on the Internet is like standing bent over in the street in downtown Gomorrah, naked, arse greased up and carrying a flashing neon sign saying “COME AND GET IT.”

    Microsoft cannot believe people have not applied the patch for the problem, just because they keep trying to use Windows Genuine Advantage to break legally-bought systems. “Don’t they trust us?” asked marketing marketer Steve Ballmer.

    Millions of smug Mac users and the four hundred smug Linux users pointed and laughed, having long given up trying to convince their Windows-using friends to see sense. “There’s a reason the Unix system on Mac OS X is called Darwin,” said appallingly smug Mac user Arty Phagge.

    “It can’t be stupid if everyone else runs it,” said Windows user Joe Beleaguered, who had lost all his email, business files, MP3s and porn again. “Macs cost more than Windows PCs.”

    “Yes,” said Phagge. “Yes, they do.”

    Ubuntu Linux developer Hiram Nerdboy frantically tried to get our attention about something or other, but we can’t say we care.

  • A good set of these computers which are infected are going to be on dial-up connections, and they might have been offline at the time, also another large set are going to be behind firewalls and what-not which are supposed to prevent whatever on earth the firewalls were originally for, so even though only 7m unique IPs connected, a lot more didn't get the chance. There are probably a lot of 'offline' conficker-infected PCs out there. :) Let's hope that it starts using itself as one large cloud-computing

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.