While the rest of the world bit its nails in terror that the Conficker worm would somehow rise up and swamp the internet on 1 April, Russian wags seized on the opportunity to craft a subtle April Fool joke.
A story by Russian news agency RIA Novost that police in Belarus had arrested a pair of suspects looked plausible enough at first sight. But a closer reading reveals the story (extracts of Google translation below) has several ludicrous aspects that mark it as a jape.
Law enforcement agencies of Belarus and Interpol as a result of a joint operation detained two people suspected of creating the worm Conficker, infected millions of computers around the world, transmits RIA Novosti.
The story goes on to suggest that preliminary analysis of one of the computers seized by police showed source code for the infamous Conficker worm, according to second deputy chief of the Bobruisk District Department of Internal Affairs, Lieutenant Andrew Kandyba.
The agency, through collaboration with Skype to law enforcement agencies managed to intercept and decipher one of the VoIP-calls with their attackers «colleague», which, according to the IP-address of his computer, was in Russia. According Kandyba, the conversation was about plans to conduct large-scale operations using built worm Conficker super-botneta.
Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure, pointed out the inconsistencies in the story. "We have no direct knowledge of the case at all," Hyppönen told us. "But I would bet a bottle of vodka it's an April Fools joke.
"The evidence sounds like a joke ('found a hacker magazine'? give me a break). Also, since when has any police anywhere been able to instantly provide a comment on the contents of the suspect's computer?"
The biggest hint that the story is a joke, as Hyppönen pointed out, is the name of the city: Bobrujsk, which might just be a differently transliterated version of Babruysk or Babruisk - something like the Russian equivalent of Scunthorpe, in comedy terms. A Russian website focused on jokes about Babruisk can be found here and more background on why the city's name (which resembles the Russian word for Beaver) is used in jokes can be found here.
So the story leaves us none the wiser as to the identity of the unknown author of Conficker. Some sources, such as Vietnamese security firm Bkis, suggest that Conficker is the work of Chinese malware authors, but even this remains largely speculative. ®