April 23, 2014

Preventing Internet blackout

Hundreds of thousands of computers infected with malware could lose Internet service on Monday.

Cyber criminals are accused of spreading the trojan, whose purpose is to redirect traffic from legitimate websites to malicious locations. The FBI had tracked down the source of the malware, called DNS Changer, and is maintaining servers to keep users online until all computers are rid of the malware. But, they can’t do that forever.

Information Security Instructor at Madison College (MATC) Mike Masino says the FBI plans to take down that safety net on Monday. “If it gets taken down, anybody who is currently infected with that malware will all of a sudden lose their ability to look up websites. From their perspective it will look like their Internet connection just stops working.”

Despite the warnings, the FBI estimates there are likely over 260,000 machines worldwide still infected from the cyber attack. That number is down from an estimated 360,000 in April and nearly twice that amount more than a year ago. Nearly 70-thousand users in the U.S. are believed to be affected. The malware also prevents anti-virus software from being updated, thereby making the computer vulnerable to more attacks.

Considering the number of Internet scams and pop-up alerts, this FBI warning almost sounds like a scam, but Masino confirms this is legitimate.

Masino says users can visit a website to see whether a computer is infected and how to fix it. A general rule of thumb is never click on a questionable link; just manually type the full address in the appropriate field. The trojan first surfaced in 2007.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:59