Skip to Content

Planetary Pestilence

June 22, 2010

The Conficker worm was first released in November 2008 and later followed up by increasingly sophisticated variants. Targeting a vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows operating system, the worm can spread by means of networks and USB flash drives. Millions of computers were rapidly infected; this map from security firm Team Cymru shows a snapshot of detected infections in January 2009. Since then, Conficker has proved difficult to eradicate. Its resilience is due in part to its ability to disable antivirus software, block users from accessing the websites of security vendors to get new software, and download encrypted updates designed to defeat counter­measures against previous versions of Conficker. Microsoft is offering a $250,000 reward for the identities of the worm’s creators.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.