Malware: Internet Lost Monday?
Internet users have been alerted to check for a bug that will leave them nothing but error pages when they pull up a browser on July 9. Here is how to check to see if your computer is infected and at risk.
About 24 hours are left to check desktops and laptops for a computer virus that originally stole computers' Domain Name Systems (DNS) — the Internet service that converts URLs, such as AOL.com or Yahoo.com, into numerical addresses that computers use to communicate.
Last November, FBI officials arrested the virus’ creators, after a two-year investigation dubbed Operation Ghost Click. Government officials temporarily took over the gained computer authorizations to deploy clean DNS servers, allowing infected machines to still access the Internet.
That stop-gap measure ends Monday morning, July 9.
On a national basis, authorities this week indicated 60,000-plus American laptops and desktops still were infected with the notorious DNSChanger Malware—a computer virus that was initiated five years ago by virus writers.
The FBI has a website that quickly checks your computer for the virus. By clicking on a link on the site’s Homepage, visitors can run a self-diagnostic test on their machine.
Stephanie Haworth, a technician at Eureka Computer Solutions, said local computer users have been asking about the virus this past week.
"The writers of this virus pointed computers to their website and controlled where computer traffic went," she said. "Since it was discovered, the U.S. government took over that server, but now will be shutting down the server that has been assisting the compromised computers."
"You don't want to not check out your own situation," she said.
Here are some computer stores in the Maplewood-Brentwood area if you need help:
Malware is the generic term for destructive viruses and worms that alter the way computers work. This particular virus, reportedly created by six Estonian nationals to manipulate the Internet advertising industry, affected roughly four million computers in more than 100 countries—including individuals, businesses, and government agencies, such as NASA.
The malicious DNS servers gave fake answers, altering user searches and promoting fictitious and dangerous products. Because every web search starts with DNS, the malware showed users an altered version of the Internet.
To help avoid viruses, such as this one, Haworth reminds computer users:
- Never click on unknown links in emails.
- Don't click on unknown attachments.