Close

4 May, 2012

Is July 9 “lights out” for the Internet (at least for you)?

One of the common ways people go to websites is to type in the name of the website with it’s .com or .com.au.  Using words, rather than numbers to get to those websites uses a service called a “domain name service” or DNS.     It’s easier for us to type in “wikipedia.com”  rather than “208.80.152.201, and the DNS does this translation for us.

Unfortunately some rather shifty characters decided to exploit this system and unsuspecting Internet users.  The users thought they were going to iTunes for example, and ended up on a bogus site claiming to sell Apple software.  Essentially, victims were shown an altered version of the Internet. It was a scheme to rip off  consumers as well as companies consumers wanted to buy from.

To do this, the criminals distributed a virus which changed the locations of the DNS.   This virus has infected both Windows and Mac machines, world-wide.

Here’s a quick and easy way to check if your machine is infected > http://www.dcwg.org/detect/.

If your machine is infected, this same site “dcwg” offers a number of links to services which can clean it up for you.

While the FBI has shut down the core group and machines behind this scheme, more than 4 million servers and machines still remain infected with the virus.  To prevent massive disruption on the Internet, the FBI put clean servers in place to get visitors where they wanted to go on-line.

What’s with July 9?  Because on 9 July, 2012, the FBI is shutting down those clean servers.  If your machine is infected with the virus, you may find you cannot access the Internet any longer.  For home users, that would be very inconvenient.  For businesses, it could be very costly.