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Six Percent Of Computers Scanned By Panda Security Infected With Conficker Worm

Infections detected in more than 80 countries; United States, Taiwan and Brazil are among the most affected regions
GLENDALE, Calif., Jan. 21, 2009 - PandaLabs, Panda Security's malware analysis and detection laboratory, today revealed that almost six percent (5.77 percent) of the two million computers they scanned showed an infection by the malicious Conficker worm. The worm, which originated in China, has now extended across 83 countries, and is particularly virulent in the United States, Spain, Taiwan, Brazil and Mexico. In the U.S. alone, PandaLabs has identified at least 18,000 infected computers, although the real figure could be much higher.

On Jan. 12, PandaLabs issued an orange alert, cautioning users to be wary of this worm that propagates itself through USB memory devices such as USB Drives or MP3 players. In investigating Conficker further, PandaLabs' researchers have also discovered that some variants are launching brute force attacks to extract passwords from infected computers and from internal networks in companies. The frequency of weak passwords (common words, own names, etc.) has aided the distribution of this worm. By harvesting passwords, cyber-crooks can access computers and use them maliciously.

"Of the two million computers analyzed, around 115,000 were infected with this malware, a phenomenon we haven't seen since the times of the great epidemics of Kournikova or Blaster," says Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs. "This is no doubt an epidemic and the worst may still be to come, as the worm could begin to download more malware onto computers or to spread through other channels. The outbreak of this worm really highlights the need for users to establish strong passwords both on personal computers and corporate networks, as otherwise, an infection could spread across an entire company leaving computers at the mercy of attackers."

This worm also uses an innovative system of social engineering to spread via USB devices: in the Windows options menu that appears when inserting a USB device, it has disguised the option to run the program (activating the malware) as the option to open the folder to see the files, so when users simply want to see the contents of a memory stick, they will actually be running the worm and infecting their computers.

You can find more information about this and other malware in the PandaLabs blog (www.pandalabs.com) and the Panda Security twitter (http://twitter.com/Panda_Security).

About PandaLabs Since 1990, its mission has been to detect and eliminate new threats as rapidly as possible to offer our clients maximum security. To do so, PandaLabs has an innovative automated system that analyzes and classifies thousands of new samples a day and returns automatic verdicts (malware or goodware). This system is the basis of collective intelligence, Panda Security's new security model which can even detect malware that has evaded other security solutions. Currently, 94 percent of malware detected by PandaLabs is analyzed through this system of collective intelligence. This is complemented through the work of several teams, each specialized in a specific type of malware (viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, phishing, spam, etc), working 24/7 to provide global coverage. This translates into more secure, simpler and more resource-friendly solutions for clients. More information is available in the PandaLabs blog: http://www.pandalabs.com and the Panda Security website: www.pandasecurity.com/usa.

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