Conficker Worm Crashes University of Utah

Dennis Faas's picture

Last week the latest variant of the Conficker worm surfaced -- and just to prove it, the worm infected at least 700 computers at the University of Utah.

According to school officials, two main systems are affected by the infection: the university's three hospitals, but also its adjoined medical, nursing, and pharmacy colleges. The tip-off was a simple one most of us are quick to associate with trouble: staff noticed something was amiss when Internet service slowed considerably and email correspondence bogged down altogether. (Source:

Researchers are still not entirely sure what Conficker is, but recent studies have speculated that it might be a lot like last year's Waledac worm, which used fake links hidden in sinister greeting cards to soak up passwords and personal data. Conficker seems a little more advanced than that, but the similarities are there to suggest that this new worm is also intended to help make hackers cold hard cash.

Infection Quarantined, but Over?

So far, it doesn't seem like the University of Utah is coughing any up. According to its health sciences spokesman Chris Nelson, patient data and medical records remain safe and haven't yet been compromised. Quick work by the university staff in identifying the problem led to a widespread shutdown of all Internet services at the U of Utah's health sciences offices, preventing further infection. (Source:

However, that's hardly a solution for the problem. The web will need to be resurrected on campus sooner or later, and there's no telling if another attack could compromise an already worrisome situation. We're told University of Utah IT hounds have been working hard to correct the problem, but given Conficker's global reach, it could be more than just a weekend job.

About the only ones safe at the university's health sciences offices are those running Macs. Apple computers haven't yet been targeted by Conficker.

That's great news for the Cupertino-based tech company, but this most recent debacle is further evidence that we have yet to see the last of the Conficker worm.

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