DNSChanger May Take 300,000 Offline If Not Detected

The FBI is to close the DNSChanger network on July 9, after which thousands users will no longer be able to access the Internet.

Internet users whose computers are infected with a particularly virus will be unable to access the Web. Photo: Vargonen Hhot\Flickr

On Monday The Federal Bureau of Investigation will close down a network of DNS servers that many Internet users have been depending on for proper web-connection.

Originally, these servers were a part of a scam where Estonian nationals a group of six Estonian cybercriminals infected about 4 million computers around the world with DNSChanger, but which the FBI seized and converted to a legitimate DNS service, reports CNET.

Those users who computers won’t connect to the Internet from Monday will have an opportunity to call ISPs to figure out a fix, which will change settings in their PC used to look up websites.

To remove the problem, the FBI launched the nonprofit Internet Systems Consortium set up temporary servers which will provide owners of infected computer with time to get rid of their malware.

“The servers were supposed to be shut down in March, but hundreds of thousands remained infected. Nearly 211,000 computers worldwide (about 42,000 in the United States) still have the virus, according to the FBI’s latest count on Monday,” reports The Guardian.

“That’s a large number, but it’s a very small subset of the 1.6 billion PCs worldwide, of which an estimated 339 million are in the United States,” the paper adds.

The problem began when Estonian hackers launched an online advertising scam to take under control more than 570,000 infected computers around the world.

When the FBI planned to take down the Internet offenders late last year, agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose Internet access.

So, The Federal Bureau of Investigation decided to set up the safety net. To fulfill the task the agents brought in a private company and installed two Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet.

However, most victims didn’t even realize that their PCs were attacked by hackers, although the malware has decreased the speed of their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.

“Many computer users don’t understand the complex machines they use every day to send email, shop, and cruise for information,” explains the Huffington Post.

“The cyberworld of viruses, malware, bank fraud and Internet scams is often distant and confusing, and warning messages may go unseen or unheeded.”

Meanwhile, the Internet burst with conspiracy theories: “I think the FBI just wants everyone to go to that website to check our computers so they can check our computers as well. Just a way to steal data for their own research,” one computer user said in a posting on the Internet.

Another suggested: “Yet another ploy to get everyone freaked out … remember Y2K.”

Jim Langevin, a co-founder of Congress’ cybersecurity caucus, explained that users have a ‘responsibility to practice good sense and make sure their computers are not infected or being hijacked by criminals’.

“These types of issues are only going to increase as our society relies more and more on the Internet, so it is a reminder that everyone can do their part,” he said.

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