News 12 at 11 o'clock, March 25, 2009
AUGUSTA, Ga. --- It could be the world's biggest April Fool's joke, or it may end up being a technology nightmare. Computer experts at Microsoft are warning of a possible virus attack on April 1st that could severely damage your computer, steal your identity and spread to other unsuspecting computers without your knowledge.
It's called "Conficker" and it's no April Fools' prank; it's been hitting PCs since last Octobe,r targeting Microsoft Windows users.
It is estimated that at least 3 million windows personal computers worldwide have already been infected with the malicious software and possibly as many as 15 million. It is anticipated that on next Wednesday - April Fool's Day - the millions of already infected computers will be begins spreading spam, stealing personal data or carrying out online scams.
Here's the catch - Conficker requires no action on the part of the PC user to spread. The program automatically turns off various security settings built into Microsoft Windows. It seems to block users from going to major web sites that provide anti-virus protection.
The only good news is the program does not infect Macintosh or Linux-based computers.
At this moment, security groups at Microsoft are doing all they can to stop it and have even offered a a half a million dollar reward. But in the meantime,
It is possible to detect and remove Conficker using commercial anti-virus tools or software offered by many companies.