“Worm,” I said.
“What?” she asked.
“It’s a worm, not a virus,” I said.
N00B Alert: worm v. virus (from the Big W)
A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other nodes (computers on the network) and it may do so without any user intervention. Unlike a virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program.
“Besides they sell fear, Mom. Fear and weather. My buddy who retired after 30-years at ABC told me that.”
“It still scares me,” she said. “I wouldn’t go near the Internet or Facebook this week.” Mom just discovered Facebook, and in just three short weeks became addicted. “I only go on it during weekends. I’ll start looking at things and then a few hours goes by!” She laughed at herself, but I could hear the withdrawal of a Facebook junky looking for their next fix. Mom has pretty good self control though, quit cigarettes after thirty years via willpower, so it didn’t surpise me to hear she had joined the ranks of the “FB weekend warriors.”
“You shouldn’t be so frightened,” I told her.
“Do you go online during these viruses?” she asked.
“Worm, Mom. And yes, I my life is online,” I said. “You can’t let a worm-scare stop you from doing what you need to do.” Working in the e-Content arena I spend all day online on my PC. Then at night, I go home to blog and write on my Mac, the diversity in operating systems deluding me into thinking I am doing something different than what I do all day for pay. At least I didn’t have to worry about Conficker at home, Macs got a special pass. Still, Conficker’s capacity to cause mass-public terror and sell news amazed me.
The first two versions of Conficker — variants A and B — exploit a vulnerability in the Server Service on Windows-based PCs to take advantage of an already-infected source computer. Once infected, the worm goes to work exploiting the network hole, cracking administrator passwords, prevents access to security websites and services for automatic updates, disables backup services, erases recently saved documents, and among other things, also leaves you vulnerable to other infected machines.
Bascially a huge pain in the a**. Yet April 1st came and went without anything remotely resembling the “Fire Sale” in Diehard 4. Even today, opinions were divided over whether this worm had shriveled on the sidewalk or if it still lurked inside the Apple … I mean the PC.
Whatever the future of the Conficker Worm, it scared my hair stylist, Imana Scissorhands. She had a new PC for her new salon and it was acting “weird” all day. She feared it might be the Conficker. Having promised to build her a nice photo blog for a free haircut, I went on her computer and observed some strange activities. Clicking on Google results that had definite targets brought us to strange destinations, often for generic search and sell portals.
One thing I noticed right away was that Imana Scissorhands did not have any anti-virus or spyware protection installed. Now I’m not IT expert, but it seemed risky going it alone without any protection. We tried to download a free-90-day trial of McAffee, but her comp wouldn’t allow us to initiate the auto-run (sounding more like Conficker?). We did download and run CC Cleaner prior to that, but the strange activity continued. In the end, I told her to call a professional and see what they could do. We did manage to get her photo blog up though, and I may have found a side-career as a ghostwriter.