April 1st is here, and early indications are that the much-ballyhooed Conficker worm is more bark than bite. Aside from a modest increase in junk mail that may be completely unrelated, users have yet to report any rise in infection or other adverse effects. Regardless, there is a drop-dead simple process you can use to protect against virtually any potential Conficker maladies, and the same process should be put in place under any circumstances to protect against other malware, viruses and other security threats. Here are the steps:
1. Make sure your Windows system has all pertinent updates Launch Internet Explorer and go to windowsupdate.microsoft.com. Install the ActiveX control if necessary, then use the “Express” option to download the latest and most important updates. That’s it–your system now has Microsoft’s latest Conficker protection mechanism installed. Microsoft may issue “zero-day” updates over the next few days, so check back regularly.
2. Install one (and only one) strong anti-virus package and make sure it’s up-to-date There a number of free, regularly updated anti-virus packages that do a fabulous job of protecting against worms like Conficker. Here’s a list:
Pick one and only one package and make sure it is updated frequently. Installation of multiple anti-virus packages can create conflicts that might actually weaken your system’s immunity and can create stability and performance issues.
As mentioned above, vendors may issue “zero-day” patches over the next few days to counteract any new variants of Conficker. Check the developer’s website or intra-application auto-update mechanisms regularly for the latest updates.
3. If you’re already infected, run this One of the nastiest elements of the Conficker worm is that it can disable antivirus and anti-malware tools, making it difficult to find and eliminate the worm after it’s been hatched. However, Microsoft offers a free OneCare system scan that is done over the Web, meaning it will be more likely to work if Conficker has crippled your software. Click here to access the scan.