Wicked worm spreads worldwide: will it wreak havoc on PCs? - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Wicked worm spreads worldwide: will it wreak havoc on PCs?

By Lindsay Cohen email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) -- It has foiled experts, evaded cleaners, and lay dormant for months.

But will the feared Conficker computer virus wreak the havoc that some anticipate?

"The truth is that nobody knows what's going to happen on April 1st," said computer security expert Grant Geyer. "The reality is something could launch tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year."

The virus, described by experts as sophisticated, may already be embedded in as many as 12 million computers worldwide. It was set to come to life on Wednesday, April 1st, and steal personal information, such as social security numbers, passwords, and financial info.

"This program was written clearly to do something like make money," John Quain, a computer consultant. "Typically, there are a lot more criminal elements out there now."

Early Wednesday morning, the BBC was reporting that there were no reports of unusual PC behavior in Asia, where many are reporting infected machines.

Technology experts warn that the Conficker worm can hijack computers without users even noticing, but that there are easy ways to figure out whether a computer has the virus.

Among other things, the worm blocks PCs from accessing anti-virus and Microsoft websites. This keeps PC victims from getting updates about the worm and removal tools.

Experts say that if you can surf the Internet freely except for sites owned by Microsoft or anti-virus vendors, that's a good sign your computer is infected.

The best remedy is to have a friend whose computer is not infected. The friend will be able to download a removal tool and e-mail it to you.

To protect your PC, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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