The Lane Report Staff
WASHINGTON (July 6, 2012) — Thousands of Americans may lose Internet access Monday unless they check their computers for malware that may have infected them more than a year ago, according to the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB is urging all consumers and businesses to run a quick and easy diagnostic test to see if their computers are infected. The FBI’s DNS Changer Working Group at www.dcwg.org can detect the malware and explain how to fix infected machines.
“Everyone should check to see if their computer is infected,” said Charlie Mattingly, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Louisville, Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky. “It takes less than a minute to check and, if your equipment is clean, there is nothing more you need to do. If your computer is infected, the DNS Changer Working Group recommends the necessary steps to save your computer. But this must be done by July 9 or you could lose internet access.”
The number of computers that probably are infected is more than 277,000 worldwide, down from about 360,000 in April, according to the FBI. About 64,000 still-infected computers are probably in the United States.
Last November, the FBI, NASA and Estonia police took down the servers of international hackers operating an online advertising scam to take control of 570,000 infected computers around the world. The hackers already had successfully downloaded malware onto more than half a million computers, turning off virus updates and redirecting consumers to fraudulent websites. If the servers had simply been shut down, the victims’ computers would no longer be able to access the Internet.
Instead, the FBI set up clean servers to replace the ones that were running the scam, and victims have been redirected to those clean servers ever since, usually without any knowledge they’d been infected.
The rescue serves were to be active until March, but a court ruling extended the program until July 9, when the servers will be turned off and anyone who is still infected with the malware will lose their internet access.
People whose computers are still infected Monday will lose the ability to go online, and they will have to call their service providers for help deleting the malware and reconnecting to the Internet.