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Are nine million worm-infected machines slowing e-shopping?
My main computer went down on Christmas Eve

 4:01 am on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

The Conficker worm somehow took out my main personal machine on Christmas Eve, a critical time because the after-Christmas period is key in our business. Last week it was estimated that 3 million computers had succumbed worldwide. The latest estimate is 9 million! Of course these figures are just guesses.

Our online sales started January strong but have slowed in the past week, perhaps due to MLK Day on Monday and the inauguration yesterday. But 9 million dead machines must play some role in the recent weakness.

Is your business seeing any ramifications from this epidemic?

Mod note: Added link to earlier discussion [webmasterworld.com...]

[edited by: engine at 7:04 pm (utc) on Jan. 26, 2009]



 12:05 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

From what I'm reading the majority of the infected machines are Windows machines and the OS has not been updated - either because the auto-updater is turned off or because firewall/security prevents it - e.g. corporate machines.


 3:13 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

e.g. corporate machines.

Much isn't being admitted. My computer is updated but isn't turned off for days at a time so updates may not have been implemented immediately. But my software was reasonably up to date.

In searching for a cure (there isn't an easy one), I see that the web is teeming with individuals who are shut down. Most don't have the option I used of buying a new machine and using several older ones while waiting for it to arrive.

Victims include savvy computer users who have no idea how they were infected. Unless some time delay is built into the worm, no one says "I plugged in a stick from the kid next door and all hell broke loose." Prudent people are getting this bug.

It's amazing to me how little real research goes into articles about Conficker. Most articles only quote other articles. You have to wonder where these estimates of infected machines come from.

How likely is it that Microsoft, Firefox, security software companies and others will admit culpability to an event --traceable in its earliest form to October-- that may ultimately cost billions.


 4:32 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

But as it pertains to your original post - effects on e-shopping - I think it has little or no effect or at least I'm not seeing a connection to how it would affect it.


 4:57 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not seeing a connection to how it would affect [shopping]

While there are different and ever-more virulent strains of the worm, in most cases infected machines are useless for ordering and even for browsing. I certainly wouldn't enter confidential info into one.

BTW, the stock market is way off today after Microsoft announced layoffs and said they'd no longer provide financial guidance to investors. I wouldn't trust them to be truthful about this worm.


 6:04 pm on Jan 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Haven't seen anything in our business that would suggest that our customers are having computer problems. 9 million is a lot, but considering there are >1 billion PCs worldwide, maybe not as big a number as it sounds? I have not experienced this worm nor has anyone I know (and they would usually be calling me for what to do!)...doesn't mean it's not out there, but it isn't affecting us at all.

I did see that about Microsoft...hard times for everyone it seems (except Google, of course). They certainly weren't too keen about broadcasting the IE7 vulnerability last fall until they had a fix for it...


 6:35 pm on Jan 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

1 billion PCs worldwide? That seems way high. I have a bunch including several ancient ones that I could use for parts in a pinch. But I'd only use one or two for shopping.

A local TV station did a investigative report on Conficker last night. No question the popular media has often gone overboard in alarming people about insignificant computer issues over the years. But this appears to be a genuine problem for many. Panda software has reported that 6% of the 2 million machines they've scanned are infected.

OTOH, we too have received no reports for example of customers ordering by phone because their machine is down.


 12:24 am on Jan 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

1 billion PCs worldwide? That seems way high.

Well it's Microsoft's estimate. :)

Just google "number of PCs in the world"...


 6:11 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

JSinger, care to desribe the effects of having this worm on your machine.

Just in case one of our users reports problems.



 6:27 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Many symptoms:

1)(fake) popups purporting to be from users computer saying machine is infected and urging the purchase of antivirus software

2) Google searches to (legit) antivirus sites are hijacked

3) Inability to access antivirus software thru usb ports

4) Machine runs erratically and very slowly. Sometimes won't boot at all

5) System restore shows no date before infection date

All in all, very nasty.


 6:55 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

That does sound nasty.

I am guessing a reformat is the only cure?


 7:34 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

From what I read about 95% of infections are in chinese and other eastern countries. Very few infections in europe, USA, Canada and OZland.


 7:46 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

my brother inlaw had this thing i believe.

all my attempts to remove it failed and he ended up having to do a full re-installation of windows.

i have a feeling he was running a non-legit version of windows which obviously wasnt auto updating the security settings but he claimed he didnt click anything stupid.

it was one nasty worm/virus. Wouldnt let you update anti-virus software, the microsoft online scan didnt remove it, hijacked any search on every website that could / would possibly help, if i could manage to get to a website to download any virus removal tool it would not let you download it.

Re-installing windows was the only cure i could do. Im no genius but its the 1st virus i couldnt remove for someone.


 8:56 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I doubt it's really slowing e-shopping...unless you are a legitimate outlet for anti-virus software. In that case, according to statements made here, you have approximately 9 million fewer customers, all of whom are in desperate need of your products and services. Irony abounds as these are the only people who will never make it to your site.

What is bound to be slowing internet sales are the 300 some odd million Americans not accruring credit card debt at record levels!

As a side note, I've heard you can stem some of the Conflicker virus damage by turning off all browser add-ons or even uninstalling IE and reinstalling/only using other browsers like FireFox or Opera, etc. I cannot verify as I've yet to encounter this nasty beast. Gimme a few weeks, though, as I'm bound to be hitting the StumbleUpon button and wind up with a horrid cold.


 9:17 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

A troubling aspect of Conficker is that it harnesses computing power of a botnet to crack passwords.

Repeated "guesses" at passwords by a botnet have caused some computer users to be locked out of files or machines that automatically disable access after certain numbers of failed tries.

"Downadup uses brute force from the infected network of botnets to break the password of the machine being attacked," Perry said. "That is something never seen before and I find it disturbing."



 9:27 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

My Windows (XP) was updated and quite legal. That's why I'm leery of Micrsoft blaming users. I was using IE 7 but reports indicate that FF is equally vulnerable. I was NOT running antivirus software.

I forgot to mention that this worm seems to be evolving...learning. The blocking of system restore wasn't a feature of early (October) infections which some reported could be cured simply by turning back the date. Even recent strains can be disinfected but the methods announced so far have been complex.

Another odd feature is that those infected rarely have any idea how or where they contracted it. Perhaps there is a time delay. It's not like when a newbie clicks on an email attachment and all hell breaks loose.

What I did was to mothball the 2 1/2 year old machine and buy a pricey new unit from Dell which I'm using now with a full arsenal of malware protection. Eventually I'll probably wipe the old one clean. I needed a new computer anyway, plus this forced me to upgrade security on all our units. So-- for me -- there was perhaps a net benefit.

But in these tough times this epidemic is going to cause serious problems for most victims in the form of time offline (no shopping) and financial loss.

bloke in a box

 10:15 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I was NOT running antivirus software.

Um, why would anyone ever, in this day and age, ever run a computer online without anti virus software?


 10:23 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

I was NOT running antivirus software.

I figured "NOT" was a typo.


 10:53 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Um, why would anyone ever, in this day and age, ever run a computer online without anti virus software?

Does anti-virus software actually prevent Conflicker? They can tell me whatever they want about running the most up to date patch, keeping up with the newest definitions, poor user habits, etc., but the velocity of this one is too fast for it to be pure user error. I feel the anti-virus community has been beaten on this one, pure and simple.

Lessons learned: Any computer not operating as a stand-alone, dvd viewing, math machine is at risk.

bloke in a box

 11:03 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Whether it prevents this virus or not is kind of beside the point, what about the other 495843095348509385308 virii / malware / adware / scumware / etc / etc that are still out there?


 11:34 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Many people here don't use antivirus software from what they've said.

I had Nortons which expired and keeps popping up "Activate Now" windows every few days, a common Nortons bug. The software itself is a kind of virus. I have a different brand on the new machine.

Does anti-virus software actually prevent Conflicker?
Well I guess it does now but its hard to get a firm answer about when that protection started.

Who to point the finger at? I'm starting with Microsoft. This thing is exploiting lots of weaknesses (such as auto-start on USB drives). No one wants to be blamed for a billion dollars (what I figure) in worldwide losses. If this were a conventional disaster Washington would be demanding answers. But I don't see that happening.


 5:02 am on Jan 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

Does anti-virus software actually prevent Conflicker?

Those symptoms describe my husband's experience exactly. At the time his computer was struck by this he had up to date Norton's running. He had to try several versions of spyware and the only one that let him restore things was Stopzilla. Until then it looked like his computer was toast.

This was a couple of months ago. I would have thought they would have had the problem solved by now.


 12:14 am on Jan 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

To prevent reinfection you need the following which many refuse to do.

1) Firewall (AVG/AVAST)
2) Abandon IE for FF. Most hacks are directed toward MS products.
3) Disable scripting/cookies for browsing unless you trust the site.
4) Use a browser add-on like NoScript to protect you from malicious websites and exploited websites.
5) Manage you HOSTS file with a freeware like HOSTSMAN to block knows spyware,virus,exploit domains.
6) Keep you Windows up to date with auto Windows Update.

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