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FBI Warns Infected Computers Will Lose Web, Email
Access in July
There’s a story circulating that if you don’t ensure your computer is malware-free by July 9, 2012, the FBI will shut off your access to the Internet. Just like a lot of the horror stories you hear, it’s only partially true. If you’re a Windows or Mac user however, you’ll want to be sure to keep your computer antivirus software is up to date.
The original story dates back to 2007 when malware dubbed “DNSChanger” was launched, infecting millions of computers in hundreds of countries with code that allowed them to manipulate the way Internet ads appear in browsers. This allowed the hackers to rack up millions in illicit ad fees.
“DNSChanger”, as the name implies made changes to your computers DNS routing. On an infected computer the malware redirects DNS-related requests to servers controlled by the hackers, which then piped web ads to users, putting millions of dollars in the cybercriminals’ pockets.
The FBI was able to track down the perpetrators and seize their servers. Given the number of computers estimated infected however, the FBI decided to leave the servers running, but ad-neutralized, to avoid disrupting Internet functionality for those unaware their computers were compromised. To give users more time the FBI secured a court order on March 12, 2012 that authorized the Internet Systems Consortium to roll out and maintain temporary “clean” DNS servers. Since these servers cost money to operate, the plan has been to shut them off on July 9, 2012. When that happens, DNS-related Internet activity on infected computers, e.g. web and email, will cease to function.
So, the FBI isn’t shutting off Internet service to infected machines, it’s just shutting down the illicit servers left running to give Internet users time to check and clean their machines.
To check if you’re infected got to the FBI’s DNS checker page: https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS and as always keep your antivirus and anti spyware software up to date and perform regular scans.