One of the nastiest worms in recent history, the Conficker worm, which first surfaced in October 2008, manage to infect over 9 million PCs, shut down French and British military assets, and prompt a $250,000 reward from Microsoft for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the worm's creators.
Nearly a year later, the hefty reward remains uncollected while security experts continue to try and trace Conficker's origins and erase the threat. But it's still out there, as is the threat of another attack.
"It's using the best current practices and state of the art to communicate and to protect itself," Rodney Joffe, director of the Conficker Working Group, said of the worm. "We have not found the trick to take control back from the malware in any way."
After all this time, researchers are still left speculating what exactly Conficker was ultimately designed to do. It could as be simple as generating large amounts of spam, or it could record keystrokes and steal users' login information. On a larger and more frightening scale, researchers say its possible Conficker was designed by an intelligence agency or another country's military in order to monitor or disable an enemy's computers.
On the bright side, no one is sitting idly by waiting for Conficker to strike again. While security experts continue to work on ways to eradicate the worm, Conficker remains an open investigation with the FBI, who purportedly has a few leads.