Thousands May Lose Internet Connection Due to Malware
As many as 277,000 computers worldwide could lose Internet connectivity when the FBI shuts down two servers on Monday.
Set up last year as a workaround from hackers who had hijacked computers through an advertising scam, the servers helped keep the infected machines online without further spread of the malware.
According to the FBI, the number of computers that probably are infected is more than 277,000 worldwide, down from about 360,000 in April. About 64,000 still-infected computers are probably in the United States.
Word of the shutdown has spread through social networking, with many sites popping up to help a user determine if a computer has been compromised. Other people were notified by letter through their ISP.
How Did This Happen?
According to the York Daily News, just 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.
To combat the problem, the FBI set up a safety net. They brought in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet.
Both Facebook and Google created their own warning messages that showed up if someone using either site appeared to have an infected computer. Facebook users would get a message that says, “Your computer or network might be infected,” along with a link that users can click for more information.
To check whether a computer is infected, users can visit http://www.dcwg.org/
Those who lose connectivity must contact their service provider in order to get back online.