Happy Summer! You May Not Have Internet

April 23, 2012
By: Michelle Amodio

Ah, summer. A time for beaches, frozen cocktails, vacations and time away from the connected life. In terms of the latter, this may be a truth that for many won’t exactly be a voluntary decision.

The FBI is warning the public about an expiring safety net that was put in place to prevent Internet disruptions for users who had infected computers due to a global malware infection.

International hackers had implemented an online marketing scam with efforts to take control of infected computers on the global level. In November of 2011, individuals were arrested in conjunction with said scam, which infected an estimated 500,000 computers in the US alone.

The problem is, most don’t know they’re infected. With the imminent shutdown of the safety net, it could spell lost connections for those infected.

The malicious software, known as DNSChanger, turns off antivirus updates and changes the way the computers reconcile website addresses behind the scenes on the Internet's domain name system.

The DNS system is a network of servers that translates a Web address into the numerical addresses that computers use. Victimized computers were reprogrammed to use rogue DNS servers owned by the attackers. This allowed the attackers to redirect computers to fraudulent versions of any website.

“When users of infected computers clicked on the link for the official website of iTunes, for example, they were instead taken to a website for a business unaffiliated with Apple (News - Alert) Inc. that purported to sell Apple software,” the FBI stated in November when detailing the operation.

Profits for the scam’s administrators were huge, raking in around fourteen million dollars in what the FBI referred to as “illicit fees” as many online users were duped into transactions on the fake sites. About four million systems were affected worldwide.

Security experts believe that approximately 450,000 computers are still infected with DNSChanger.

Users can visit DNSChanger DNSChanger Working Group (DCWG) Web site and get their system tested.

Visit www.dcwg.org and get tested. If DNSChanger is found on your computer, the DNSChanger Working Group can help you remove it.

Edited by Rich Steeves