60 Minutes Conficker Virus - Threat or Not?

While The Monetizer is mostly about making money online, I'm also interested in presenting info on technology, tips, tricks and ways to increase productivity, or in this case protect your important data/identity on your personal computer. On the Sunday March 29th, 2009 episode of the news documentary show "60 Minutes" they had an in depth report and look at the Conficker virus. Conficker is described as a fast-moving computer worm, which is apparently latching onto over 3 million computer systems worldwide but is not really inflicting any damage, yet. The only thing the virus is doing is "awaiting further instructions" which in and of itself is terrifying. According to the computer security experts, this worm is set to change course on April Fools Day, which is a day or so away. This could result in all sorts of havoc including sending spam, spreading other harmful computer viruses or bringing down websites.

The story went on to show interviews with higher-ups from Symantec (makers of Norton Antivirus) and Google. At Symantec they demonstrated the importance of having updated antivirus and antispyware software, which most people know of these days. They had an interesting simulation showing 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl using a computer, going to Facebook, and clicking on a link that she thought a friend had emailed her of a cool video clip. The link which was fake immediately gave her computer a virus. They had another computer monitor set up right next to hers which then displayed every bit of data she entered into her computer being captured on the other computer. This is the danger that is computer viruses in our modern age. The rep from Google discussed the notion that Google takes every precaution to warn internet "searchers" of potentially harmful sites that show up in search listings. Google has the warning "this site may be harmful to your computer" which shows up under some listings and then a second warning once you click to the site. After that, the Google rep said, the internet surfer is on their own.

Back to Conficker, let's make sure we have the facts straight so a mass panic doesn't start. Security experts say the people behind the virus most likely aren't looking to crash websites and damage computers because doing so would prevent them from "making money". The latest computer hackers tend to be cyber gangs looking to score by grabbing people's data such as Credit card numbers and bank account information. It's basically like their very own (highly illegal) shortcuts to internet millions. So in that regard don't worry about your computer being destroyed by Conficker, but do take your personal data and identity protection seriously.

Many of our PC's are already protected from the Conficker virus because we have the latest, greatest Antivirus Software. To be sure, it's very easy to make sure you're protected from the potentially harmful consequences. There's really 2 choices you have in fighting off the potentially harmful effects of downloading the Conficker virus:

1) Make sure you have run the most recent Windows updates for your computer. There's a security patch that Microsoft released in October 2008 which prevents Conficker. Many people don't have that important update or perhaps are running illegal copies of Windows which don't have the update. Also, it's not a bad idea to update and security software such as Antivirus Software and antispyware while you're at it to prevent other viruses.

2) Buy yourself a Macintosh. They don't get hit by viruses nearly as often as the PC's.

You can read all about the Conficker virus story at CBSNews.com.

The Monetizer"s Latest

Tools of the Trade