This is a consumer advice column written by the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. It appears Thursdays in Business.
Hundreds of thousands of Internet users may lose their online access Monday, and Better Business Bureau 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 can detect the malware and explain how to fix infected machines.
“Everyone should check to see if their computer is infected,” urged Michael Coil, president/CEO of BBB Northern Indiana. “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 Monday or you could lose Internet access.”
Last November, the FBI took down the servers of international hackers operating out of Estonia. The hackers had already 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 in the first place.
Originally the rescue servers were to be active until March, but a court ruling extended the program until Monday. At that time the clean servers will be turned off and anyone who is still infected with the malware will lose their Internet access. The FBI believes there are still about 360,000 infected computers.