* Fears of an attack fail to materialize
* Researchers say publicity may have scared its author
* Attack may still be in the works
By Jim Finkle
BOSTON, April 1 Malicious software installed on
millions of computers has yet to wreak havoc on technology
systems worldwide as some fear, but researchers warned that the
"Conficker worm" could still strike in the future.
Also known as Downadup or Kido, Conficker turns infected
PCs into slaves that respond to commands sent from a remote
server that effectively controls an army of slave computers.
Researchers feared that the network created by Conficker
might be deployed on Wednesday for the first time since the
worm surfaced last year because its code suggested it would
seek to communicate with its master server on April 1.
They formed an industry-wide task force to fight the worm,
bringing widespread attention that experts said probably scared
off the criminals who command the army of slave computers,
known as a botnet.
"The Conficker-infected machines attempted to call home to
get new commands from their master but those calls went
unanswered," said Joris Evers, spokesman for security software
maker McAfee Inc MFE.N.
Researchers warned that the botnet's commanders are
probably waiting until they are under less scrutiny before they
mobilize the network of infected computers.
"I never thought it would happen April 1," said Roger
Thompson, chief research officer at AVG, an anti-virus firm.
"It might be tomorrow. It might be next week. It might be next
Privately held AVG and other firms with security labs
including Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Symantec Corp (SYMC.O),
McAfee and Trend Micro Inc (4704.T) will closely monitor the
botnet's activities long after Wednesday.
The virus exploits weaknesses in Microsoft's Windows
operating system. It can evade corporate firewalls by passing
from an infected machine onto a USB memory stick, then onto
In February, Microsoft announced it was offering a $250,000
reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of
whoever is responsible for creating Conficker, saying the worm
constituted a criminal attack.
(Editing by Jason Szep; Editing by Derek Caney)