Even if it's not an April Fools' joke, the latest moves by the dreaded Conficker worm are by no means an Internet Armageddon, either.
The worm's alarming outbreak entered a new phase Wednesday as clocks around the world ticked into the first day of April, the day it was scheduled to change programming.
But security experts appeared correct in their predictions that the day was likely to come and go without any major disruptions, even though the worm has infected anywhere from 3 million to 12 million PCs running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.
You may have already heard of the "conficker" worm. Heck, it may be sitting on your computer right now. McAfee virus fighters in the Silicon Valley estimate that some 20 million PCs are already infected with the worm. And things may soon get worse. Conficker, which digs into your computer (Macs, we're told, are safe) and treats it like a "zombie" (sending out spam to lots of other computers), was apparently waiting until April 1 to get its next set of "instructions" from its creator.
It's creator, by the way, is now famous: Microsoft has put out a $250,000 bounty on his/her head. You get the reward if you provide information leading to a capture. How cool is that, by the way?
But, I digress. Brent Remai of McAfee has a quick way to find out if you've been conficker-ed. Try typing in the URL of a virus-fighting company (i.e., www.mcafee.com, or www.symantec.com). If it works, you're probably up to date with your anti-virus software, and you don't have the conficker worm. If not, conficker is likely blocking your computer from fighting back, and it's time to install some new armor.
Nothing is certain in the virus world, and April Fool's Day may go on without anything catastrophic happening. But, just in case, try the URL test. It may save your computer from turning into a zombie.