If you landed on Google's home page yesterday, I'm sure you noticed that the Google trademark was replaced with Topeka. April Fool's! OK, Google's switch was obviously in good fun, and it isn't the only company play along with the tricks and pranks of April 1. However, as cybercriminals become more sophisticated, it is a lot harder to know the difference between a computer prank or a real computer threat.
Last year, April 1 was greeted with reports that the Conflicker virus would be launched and we were prepared for suspicious activity on our computers.
This year, there were no specific warnings, but SUPERAntiSpyware.com warns that the first week of April typically sees an increase of malware infections, a problem that can lead to lost productivity and increased expenses.
Plus, the threat of Conflicker still lingers, a year later. According to Symantec:
- Approximately 6.5 million systems are still infected with either the .A or .B variants
- The .C variant, which used a peer-to-peer method of propagating, has been slowly dying out over the past year. From a high of nearly 1.5 million infections in April of 2009, the infection rate has steadily decreased to between 210,000 to 220,000 infections. This indicates some computer users are fixing the issue and getting rid of the infection
- Symantec also observed another variant, .E, released on April 8, 2009, but this variant deleted itself from infected systems on or after May 3, 2009
- Thus far, the machines still infected with Downadup/Conficker have not been utilised for any significant criminal activity, but these 6.5 million computers infected with Downadup/Conficker are still like a loaded gun, waiting to be fired.
- Protections are in place to monitor the botnet's activity and following the best practices above will go a long way in preventing further infections, but the reality is that until the current infections are completely eradicated, which likely will require a larger, radical action by ISPs, Downadup/Conficker is still a threat.
That in mind, enjoy the day, but do be mindful of websites that seem like a harmless prank. On April Fool's Day, nothing is as it seems.