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The worm continues to infect a large number of computers while security experts try and figure out what to do

Microsoft has created a new technology industry posse and a $250,000 reward for people who help turn over the creators of the Conficker worm.

The Conficker worm multiplied like wildfire, and spreads through a hole found in Microsoft Windows systems, though the vulnerability was patched in October.  It also is able to disable anti-malware protection and will block an infected PC from visiting anti-malware vendors Web sites to receive updates.

Security experts are even more worried about the possibility the worm calls home every 24 hours to at least 250 servers each day for instructions or directed actions.

The Houston police department was forced to stop arresting people with traffic warrants because the worm spread its way through the police and city court's computer systems.  Violent offenders were still arrested, but those with outstanding traffic warrants were simply issued citations instead of being arrested, Houston police officials said.

There also was a Conficker outbreak among French military computers, which led to several fighter planes being grounded until everything could be fixed.

Microsoft is working with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and PC security experts while trying to identify the worm's creators.  VeriSign, NeuStar, Public Internet Registry, Global Domains International, AOL, F-Secure, George Tech, and several other organizations have joined the fight to help capture who ever created the Internet worm.

"As part of Microsoft's ongoing security efforts, we constantly look for ways to use a diverse set of tools and develop methodologies to protect our customers," Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Group G.M. George Stathakopoulos said in a statement.  "By combining our expertise with the broader community we can expand the boundaries of defense to better protect people worldwide."

Security company Symantec reported that more than 2.2 million IP addresses over the past five days have been infected with two different forms of the worm, three months after it first hit the Internet.  To date, it's infected at least 10 million PCs since first being introduced into the wild.





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