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Technology Advice in Plain English

Conficker Set to Strike

March28

One of the biggest computer worms in recent history, called “Conficker,” appears set to strike on April 1, 2009. No one knows exactly what this worm will do, but you can be sure it won’t be good. If you’re running any Windows operating system (including Mac users who have Windows installed), you could be at risk.

To be sure that your computer won’t be one of the millions affected, please take a few minutes this weekend to protect your computer. First, visit Microsoft’s update page at http://update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/ to make sure that you have the latest version of your operating system and any patches that are available. (Microsoft has released a patch for all the current versions of its operating systems to combat Conficker.)

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Protect Yourself from Windows Worms

January17

More than three million Windows computers around the world have been hit by a malicious worm, but your computer doesn’t need to become one of this growing number. Just a few simple steps can protect you and save you hours of trouble.

A computer worm is a self-propagating piece of malicious software. Computer worms use networks (like the internet) to send copies of themselves out to other computers on those networks. Since no action is necessary on the part of computer users for a worm to infect their systems, users are often unaware they’ve been infected, and they unwittingly allow the worm to infect other users.

On Friday, the BBC reported that, in this particular case, “the malicious program, known as Conficker, Downadup or Kido was first discovered in October 2008.” Microsoft released a patch specifically to stop this worm from infecting machines, but it remains a problem because many owners of Windows computers have not downloaded and installed this patch.

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