It’s 12:00:01. Do you know where your computer is?
This year, like a now-familiar number of preceding years, an anonymous threat has been whispered across the web. Someone may or may not have created a virus which they intend to release upon the suspecting masses creatively on April 1. The Conficker virus, first identified in October 2008, is expected to hit “the webs” and do something unspecified and disastrous shortly after I finish this blog.
The only hint to its creator is that its name may be a “portmanteau,” or combination of the words “configure” and “ficken,” the German word for…
…it is what it sounds like. And I don’t mean the McBird.
Ladies and gents, we have the culprit’s profile. A warty virgin Bavarian in a sweaty apartment, laptop and finally-appreciated computer science course notes tucked close by Cheeto-stained fingers, is threatening us all.
He left a paper trail so clear that I narrowed down the sixth of the world with internet connections down to a mere handful of a million in just minutes. The last virus engineer Microsoft bounty hunters tracked down was exactly the same: 18-year old German computer science student Sven Jaschan from Rotenburg, designer of the Sasser worm in 2005, a bug also directed at Windows XP and up. The two who turned him in were given $250,000 apiece, and the German authorities arrested and sentenced the boy, or, man, as it were.
Sadly, unless a spiteful and malicious Linux employed Sven and our latest caper, neither of them will see a cent, or euro, for all their efforts. Sven Jaschan suffered thousands of dollars in fines, three years probation and thirty hours community service at a retirement home (working with a generation that wouldn’t understand as he muttered to himself about his glory days rewriting code). He got off easy for having been a minor when he created the code. The new creator, should they press the ominous red button marked Send To All Recipients, will either suffer the consequences and earn a lifetime of notoriety, or remain anonymous (as is much more common among hackers) and smile with the satisfaction of a job well done.
Good news for some users: The program, fortunately, only targets Windows models XP and up, including Vista and the latest Windows Server R2. Mac, Linux and iPhone users need not fret.