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Internet doomsday: Monday

Monday Monday

Monday Monday (Photo credit: soonerpa)

Tens of thousands of computer users around the world infected with malware last year may lose their Internet access on Monday with the expiration of a fix by U.S. authorities, security experts say.

The problem stems from malware known as DNS Changer, which was created by cybercriminals to redirect Internet traffic by hijacking the domain name systems of Web browsers.

The ring behind the DNS Changer virus, discovered in 2007, was shut down last year by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Estonian police and other law enforcement agencies.

Because the virus controlled so much Web traffic, authorities obtained a court order to allow the FBI to operate replacement servers which allow traffic to flow normally, even from infected computers.

But that order expires Monday, when experts say infected computers will face an “Internet doomsday.”

The FBI, Facebook, Google, Internet service providers and security firms have been scrambling to warn users about the problem and direct them to fixes.

According to a working group set up by experts, more than 300,000 computers remained infected as of June 11.

The largest number were in the United States (69,000), but more than a dozen countries — including Italy, Germany, India, Britain, Canada, France and Australia — are also believed to have infected computers.

“Reaching victims is a very hard problem, and something we have had issues with for years,” said Johannes Ullrich, a researcher with the SANS Security Institute.

Users who think they are infected may perform a test at the DNS Changer Working Group’s website or others operated by various security firms.

The security firm Internet Identity said last week that at least 58 of all Fortune 500 companies and two out of 55 major government entities had at least one computer or router that was infected with DNS Changer.

That’s an improvement over January, when half of Fortune 500 companies and U.S. federal agencies were infected.

Six Estonians and a Russian were charged last November with infecting computers, including NASA machines, with the malware as part of an online advertising scam that reaped at least $14 million.

The Internet fraud, which took place between 2007 and October 2011, involved redirecting users searching for websites such as iTunes, Netflix and even the US tax collection agency.

At least four million computers located in over 100 countries may have been infected.

Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition
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