San Francisco: A nasty worm has wriggled into millions of computers and continues to spread, leaving security experts wondering whether the attack is a harbinger of evil deeds to come.
US software protection firm F-Secure says a computer worm known as “Conficker” or “Downadup” had infected more than nine million computers by Tuesday and was spreading at a rate of one million machines daily.
The malicious software had yet to do any noticeable damage, prompting debate as to whether it is impotent, waiting to detonate, or a test run by cybercriminals intent on profiting from the weakness in the future.
“This is enormous; possibly the biggest virus we have ever seen,” said software security specialist David Perry of Trend Micro.
“I think the bad guys are field testing a new technology. If Conficker proves to work well, they could go out and sell malware (malicious software) to people. There is a huge market for selling criminal malware.”
The worm, a self-replicating program, takes advantage of networks or computers that haven’t kept up to date with security patches for Windows RPC Server Service.
It can infect machines from the Internet or by hiding on USB memory sticks carrying data from one computer to another. Once in a computer it digs deep, setting up defenses that make it hard to extract.