Conficker Worm Spams People Too Stupid to Download Antivirus Software

For months, we've wondered what the makers of the Conficker worm, which was set to activate on April 1, were up to. An evil plot to destroy the world? Nah — they just want money.

Conficker has been the object of a lot of speculation since it was first reported in January; it has since spread to between 3 million and 12 million computers running Microsoft Windows. One security expert called the computer virus a "digital Pearl Harbor." The reason why it has been so feared is because no one knew quite what it would do — it's designed to take over a computer and then wait for instructions. The only real sign of infection: Conficker blocks access to the websites of Microsoft and other antivirus software companies, making its removal more difficult. Besides that, Conficker is capable, in theory, of anything. Or nothing. April 1 came and went without the millions of infected machines showing much activity.

Then this morning Conficker started downloading a viral payload. The result? Infected machines started displaying popups offering a supposed antivirus software called "Spyware Protect 2009" for $49.95:

Conficker Worm Spams People Too Stupid to Download Antivirus Software

It's the perfect behavioral targeting: Anyone who left their machine unprotected against Conficker has a natural need for spyware blockers. Naturally, Spyware Protect 2009 does nothing of the kind; it's actually another computer infection which lets hackers steal passwords and other data — probably so they can make more money.

Why are today's computer villains so damn boring? Whatever happened to hacking into systems in order to impress girls?