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Computer Virus Affected Norfolk Schools in UK

Hundreds of schools in Norfolk (UK) were urged on March 9, 2009 to recheck and enhance the security on their computers after computer systems in 5 local high schools were infected with a virus called Conficker or Downadup. The high schools affected are Wymondham, Thorpe St Andrew, Caister, Gorleston-based Oriel and Thetford-based Rosemary Musker.

Reportedly, the virus infiltrates the system servers and intercepts internal and private passwords prior to compromising the computer. The attack possibly aimed to either dispatch massive spam from it or to get a hand on personal information like credit card particulars.

Moreover, while the virus spreads very fast, it potentially grabs confidential information and transmits it to its controller. When run on a PC, Conficker impairs several system services like Windows Security Center, Windows Automatic Update, Windows Error Reporting and Windows Defender.

Furthermore, it is thought that the virus might have made its way into the Norfolk schools' computers via flash drives, and then infected other PC networks independently.

Following the breach of security due to the invasion, large number of students at the schools could not get access to important online work. Consequently, software experts and teachers had to work for hours to clear the worm. However, to adopt security steps, the schools advised students to avoid using USB sticks that were so long being used to transfer the students' assignments from home PCs to school PCs, so that the problem of the virus' spread could be prevented.

According to the reports, at the biggest Norfolk school, Thorpe St Andrew School, which has 1,700 students, the Conficker virus was first discovered on February 27, 2009. Since then, the malware has been adversely affecting the students' learning.

Security specialists state that the Conficker worm, which has been in the wild since October 2008, has infected several million PCs globally. And apart from spreading across the systems of Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Schools (USA) during February 2009, the virus also infected the computers of Norfolk County Council's sensory-support officials and the professional development department. Previously, it affected the air force of US and the navy and air force of France as well.

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