The Microsoft Tax: Conficker virus begins to attack Windows PCs; Macintosh unaffected

“A malicious software program known as Conficker that many feared would wreak havoc on April 1 is slowly being activated, weeks after being dismissed as a false alarm, security experts said,” Jim Finkle reports for Reuters.

“Conficker, also known as Downadup or Kido, is quietly turning thousands of personal computers into servers of e-mail spam and installing spyware, they said,” Finkle reports. “The worm started spreading late last year, infecting millions of computers and turning them into “slaves” that respond to commands sent from a remote server that effectively controls an army of computers known as a botnet.”

“Its unidentified creators started using those machines for criminal purposes in recent weeks… Conficker installs a second virus, known as Waledac, that sends out e-mail spam without knowledge of the PC’s owner, along with a fake anti-spyware program, Weafer said.The Waledac virus recruits the PCs into a second botnet that has existed for several years and specializes in distributing e-mail spam,” Finkle reports.

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