Beware of Conficker worm, campus warns

Information and Educational Technology is warning faculty, students and staff to watch out for a widespread computer worm, Conficker, that can easily spread through contaminated flash drives and shared data storage.

Experts estimated Tuesday that 9 million PCs worldwide are infected. Most probably did not apply a critical Microsoft software patch MS08-067 and are not running a current anti-virus program.

The campus has configured its network security controls to identify and block exploits associated with Conficker, but the worm can still spread through the use of shared electronic storage, such as flash drives or low-security data storage networks.

To reduce your PC's risk of infection, you must install the patch--if you haven't already--and use a current anti-virus program. A good option is Sophos, which the campus offers at no cost to UC Davis students, faculty and staff. The software is available on the campus software site. Running an anti-virus program on your computer can also confirm or help clean up a local infection.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant with Sophos, told the BBC news service that the Conficker outbreak is bigger than they had seen for some time. "Microsoft did a good job of updating people's home computers, but the virus continues to infect business[es] who have ignored the patch update."

"As the virus can be spread with USB memory sticks, even having the Windows patch won't keep you safe," Cluley said. "You need anti-virus software for that."

For more information or help on campus, contact the IT Express Computing Services Help Desk at (530) 754-HELP (4357).