Findings of Conficker worm showed massive increase last month

7 Jul 2010

Conficker infections in Ireland almost doubled last month from a previous high of 15pc, according to the latest monthly figures from antivirus firm Eset.

Last month, the Conficker worm was found in 28.3pc of all infections, Eset’s Threatsense report showed. To put this in a wider context, the global rate for Conficker infections in June was less than 10pc.

Ireland reached the kinds of levels that had been reported throughout 2009 in the highest infected countries, such as Ukraine and Russia. Only Slovenia among European countries had a higher infection rate than Ireland.

Urban Schrott, IT security and cyber crime analyst with Eset Ireland, commented: “This reveals an alarming negligence in Irish computer users about patching and updating their operating system, as a simple Microsoft patch can prevent most cases of Conficker infection. Judging by the soaring infection rate, Irish computer users also seem to be very unaware of most other computer security practices.”

The network worm caused widespread damage to many organisations’ IT systems since it was launched almost two years ago. Schrott said considering the publicity it received and its exploitation of a vulnerability that has since been patched, Conficker infections ought to be in decline by now.

Practise ‘safe hex’

“It’s possible to avoid most Conficker infection risks generically, by practising ‘safe hex’: keep up-to-date with system patches, disable Autorun, and don’t use unsecured shared folders,” Schrott advised.

A new variant called JS/TrojanDownloader.Pegel was the second-highest occurring malware in Ireland last month, with just 7.99pc of the total. Pegel is said to be sweeping across Europe, notably in Germany and France. This threat works as a script injected into websites which redirects the user to malware-laden websites with the aim of downloading and executing malicious code on the infected system.

Another Trojan was in third place; Win32/Oficla accounted for 3.61pc of all detected malware. INF/Autorun, which infects USB keys and other removable media, occupies the fourth position, scoring a share of 3.17pc – fewer than May’s total of 5.25pc. Fifth-placed Win32/Agent was written to expose sensitive data on infected computers. It was found in 2.99pc of all detections, Eset said.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic