You may have heard of a nasty virus about to come to life on April 1. It would be nice if this was an April Fools joke, but odds are – it’s not. It’s called Conficker and its all the buzz in geek-land these days. If your computer is infected, it is supposed to start contacting servers on April 1 and get instructions as to what to do. No one knows exactly what this will mean, but it could be pretty awful. Millions of zombie computers around the world all set to march to the bidding of some dark lord. An infected computer could become pretty worthless to its rightful owner.

The good news is, if you’ve followed our ‘Safe Computing‘ advice and kept your Windows operating system up-to-date, then you’re fine. Microsoft has known about this vulnerability and they patched it back last October. If you’ve been running your automatic updates, you downloaded the patch last year that makes it impossible to contract the virus now.

The bad news is, if your computer is already infected, it’s difficult to fix. One of the features of the virus is that websites containing tools to remove Conficker are blocked by Conficker. For more technical info specifically on this new virus, we recommend the Windows Secrets newsletter.

So, here’s what we think you should do:
go to That’s the direct address to Microsoft’s free safety scanner, ‘Onecare.’ If you can get to that site, you don’t have the Conficker virus. But, as long as you’re there, you may as well run the scan! Even if you have a good, up-to-date antivirus and anti-spyware an occasional scan with another program, like Onecare safety scanner, is a good idea. A second opinion, if you will.

This is also a good time to check and be sure that your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are active and up-to-date. A good place to look for this information is in your Security Center. You’ll find it in your Control Panel. Or, if you have Vista, all you have to do is click Start and type Security Center – now you’ll see it at the top of the list and you can click or press Enter to open it.

We think you’ll find the following videos helpful :

Microsoft’s Onecare Safety Scanner (members only)

Check your Windows Security Center (free to anyone)

Chris Guld

This article is an excerpt from the monthly Geeks on Tour Newsletter.

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  10. GMAs

    something happend on the way to the zoo… last weekend

    Now I can’t see any of the videos that come up on the net. Am using the old Netscape 7.2. When it opens to view.. I get a white box and the text around it but no video… Tried loading a new version of flash player.. and no help…

    I loaded netscape 9.0 and things work but then I lose my mail icon and ability to click and go to mail section.. least I haven’t found out how to set it up the same as 7.2… did microsoft gut it out on the old 7.2 when it went into protection from the server?

    any help??

    thanks again..


  11. Barry Zander

    Very good information among all the dire stories I’ve been reading. Thanks

  12. Richard,
    Are you using Firefox? You need to be using Internet Explorer to run the Microsoft Scan.

  13. Pam Evans

    I checked Nortan’s web site and then ran a full scan this morning – I also allow the windows updates to automatically run, so looks like I am fine.

  14. have heard of this for months now and “now the push is one”.

    just checked out the site link you provided (safety live) and for each scan and the complete scan i received this message:

    We’re sorry. This version of the Windows Live OneCare safety scanner doesn’t work with your Web browser or operating system.

    yet another of MS “oops”? i am operating XP pro with all of the service packs and updates for four years now.

    had similar issue with Vista not functioning after updates/SP’s so i finally gave up and cleaned the system and installed XP on that laptop.

    hope others have better luck.