Conficker Time Bomb Targets Southwest Airlines, Others This March

Dennis Faas's picture

Sophos Security is warning that the Conficker/Downadup worm ("Conficker worm") is targeting multiple domains -- including Southwest airlines -- that could end up causing Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and temporary disruptions.

The Conficker worm has been kicking around since last year and usually spreads via a) removable storage devices such as USB drives and b) network sharing. It exploits a Windows vulnerability that was patched by Microsoft last year.

According to a blog entry by Mike Wood of SophosLabs Canada, those computers infected with the Conficker worm are programmed to contact, which will redirect visitors to the main site on March 13. (Source:

Conficker and Southwest: Why Tango?

The problem with a legitimate site like making it onto Conficker's radar? Wood gives two reasons: without proper investigation, Southwest may end up on a blocklist, and users will be prevented from accessing their services.  In addition, millions of infected machines contacting the domain on the 13th may overload the site and shut it down. (Source:

Wood says the worm is targeting about 7,750 domains of which nearly 3,900 are active, but only resolve to 42 unique IP addresses. Of those, only 28 are involved in a covert operation of ISPs and others trying to thwart Conficker/Downadup by pre-registering domains. The vast majority of those 28 domains are currently up for sale.

Key Sites Targeted By Conficker/Downadup

Key sites listed by Wood whose visitors may see a disruption in service include:

  • -- Big Web Great Music -- March 8
  • -- Southwest Airlines -- March 13
  • -- Women's Net in Qinghai Province -- March 18
  • -- Doing phonetics by computer -- March 31

Other less frequented sites of interest that appeared on the list include 'The Tennesse Dogue De Bordeaux' dog breeders site ( -- March 14) and the 'Double Super Secret Message Board' site ( -- March 11). (Source:

Wood contacted the owners of the domains to draw their attention to the problem, and thankfully Southwest Airlines has already taken action to prevent the attacks. Solutions for network administrators to combat the problem were offered in the post by Wood from SophosLabs Canada.

If you haven't done so already, make sure you apply the patch from Microsoft to prevent your computer from being exploited. See "Cleaning Systems of Conficker" at the bottom of the page.

Visit Bill's Links and More for more great tips, just like this one!

Rate this article: 
No votes yet