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IT staff still wary of Confickr computer virus

It was no joke that a computer bug, the Confickr virus, was set to hit computers April Fool’s Day.

The virus is maintained by its creators at a single location called “Botnet,” according to Ed Nickerson, director of Information Technology.

It’s feared that the computers affected by the virus will allow the creators to maintain control of the computers, accessing personal information like passwords, credit card numbers and bank account numbers. Using the computers, the creators can also flood Web sites with spam and trash, causing the Web site to crash.

The virus was discovered back in October 2008 and surfaced through a fictitious e-mail. Experts on the virus believe it to affect only Windows-based PCs, yet anywhere from nine to 12 million computers are believed to currently be affected.

According to Nickerson, the Confickr virus “mutated as it got passed along through e-mails and suspicious Internet Web sites.” There are now three different strains of the virus identified: A, B and C, with more probably yet to be discovered. Strain C affects Internet Web sites, and it’s the strain that had computer experts concerned about April 1.

Not only can the creators control all the computers, but the virus enables these computers to communicate to each other. The open communication allows for Confickr to send updates and even commands amongst the infected computers.

Some critics think nothing happened April 1, that it was a rumor of Confickr causing mass harm and made up in an attempt to draw attention to the virus. Others maintain that the security patch created by Microsoft to block and isolate the virus has thwarted the April 1 destruction plans of Confickr’s creators.

Nickerson, along with other members of IT, worked hard to keep all La Salle computers updated with Microsoft automatic updates, as well as installing the Microsoft patch against Confickr.

“We’ve maintained the appropriate defenses all along,” Nickerson said.

Not only did Nickerson and IT protect La Salle computers, like the computer labs, but they also worked to ensure that on-campus residents were protected. The La Salle network was secured so computers “brought onto campus and infected with Confickr could not access the La Salle network,” Nickerson said.

Because of these efforts, Nickerson believes that La Salle was protected against any onslaught by Confickr.

However, he warned that all should still be wary about it.

“Just because April 1 came and passed does not mean that the threat of Confickr is subsided,” he said.

He recommended all students be mindful of completing automatic updates from Microsoft, as they will protect computers from strains of Confickr.

Nickerson also urged all to be vigilant while surfing the Internet.

“Confickr can attack sites we use and then harm computers,” he said.

If any student suspect their computer to be infected, Nickerson encouraged them to call extension 1788, the IT help desk, to help isolate the virus.

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