Tens of thousands of Americans whose computers are infected with malware will lose Internet service Monday. Here’s a quick explanation of what led to this impending Internet blackout and how you can avoid being left in the dark.
Over a year ago, hackers used an online ad scam to infect more than 570,000 computers around the world with malware called DNS Changer that could make the devices carry out tasks without their owners’ knowledge. The FBI wanted to shut down the servers that the hackers were using to control the infected computers, but they realized that the victims of the hack would suddenly lose Internet service if they did so.
The feds set up a transitional system that allowed them to take down the hackers’ servers while still allowing computers affected with the malware to get online.
But they’re set to pull the plug on that system at 12:01 a.m. Monday, July 9 – after that, anyone with an affected machine will be kicked off the Internet until they rid their computer of the malware.
So how can you avoid being among those who lose Internet?
First, it’s important to note that if your computer is infected with DNS Changer, your antivirus software won’t help. And if you use a Mac, don’t think you’re immune – Comcast reports that they’ve already spotted the malware on several Apple computers.
To do a quick check on the health of your computer, visit www.dns-ok.us. If you see a red background, your machine has been infected. If you see green, that’s good – though the site notes there’s still a chance your computer is infected.
To make sure that your computer is malware free, go to www.dcwg.org, the website of the DNS Changer Working Group, a collection of experts the FBI recruited to deal with this hack attack.
Click on the word “Detect” and scroll down to the section labelled “Manually Checking if your DNS server have been Changed.” Click on the option for your operating system and follow the illustrated step-by-step guide.
Your Internet service provider (ISP) might also be able to help you if you think your computer’s been hit. Scroll down to the very bottom of www.dcwg.org/detect to see a list of ISPs and the pages they’ve set up for customers who may have been harmed by DNS Changer.
Next, if your computer has been infected, follow the steps listed at www.dcwg.org/fix. The working group recommends backing up all of your important files to an external hard drive, and enlisting the help of a professional if you don’t feel comfortable using one of the “self-help” malware cleanup guides they provide.
Source: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS