California State Agencies are Encountering No Major Issues Related to the Conficker Computer Worm

Article Posted by Mark Weatherford, Director and Chief Information Security Officer, California Office of Information Security and Privacy Protection

According to recent reports, California state agencies are encountering no major negative issues related to the well-publicized Conficker computer worm.  For the past several of weeks, media sources have been reporting that the Conficker worm was poised to wreak havoc around the world, already infecting more than 9 million computers. 

The Conficker worm, also known as "Downadup," gained notoriety earlier this year when it spread to millions of machines by exploiting a vulnerability that Microsoft patched with an emergency update in October 2008. Researchers who reverse engineered the worm, discovered that on April 1 the worm would change tactics and may add new features or techniques in avoiding detection similar to computer virus and worm outbreaks over the past couple of years.  Once a computer is infected with Conficker, the worm can remotely contact the attacker or other infected computers and download other malicious software such as password stealers or remote control software.

The California Office of Information Security and Privacy Protection (OISPP), in partnership with the US-CERT and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) has been proactive in response to this threat.  In October, OISPP notified state and local government agencies of the critical Microsoft patch that would prevent computer infections.  During the intervening months, as more information surfaced about the vulnerability and the various versions of the worm, the OISPP kept state and local government agencies and partners aware of the threat and recommended preventative measures.  This week, with predictions of heightened worm activity scheduled to occur on April 1, OISPP provided agencies with information about access to detection and worm removal resources. 

State agency security managers are continuing to report their status to the OISPP and so far, no serious infections have been encountered.  According to the latest response, state level agencies have applied patches and solutions as prescribed within the OISPP recommendations. Counties and municipalities have a mixed response as OISPP continues to monitor their progress.