If you suddenly find yourself cut off from the internet in the near future, your ISP, or a break in an internet cable might not be to blame. Nope, the real culprit could be year old malware.
According to online security firms, the threat comes from a piece of malicious software called DNS Changer, which effectively showed people a different version of the internet, altering user searches, and promoting fake and dangerous products.
Until now US authorities have been able to protect people from the threat after obtaining a court order that allowed them to operate replacement servers and even infected computers to access the web as normal. That court order expires on Monday.
According to a working group set up by experts, more than 300 000 computers remained infected as of 11 June with the US, Italy, Germany, India, Britain, Canada, France and Australia among the worst infected countries.
According to news agency AFP, security experts are calling the crisis a potential “internet doomsday”. Seems they’ve gone for a typically restrained and understated approach then.
“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.
Google has reportedly been working hard to notify people that they may have been infected but spokesperson Jay Nancarrow said it was unclear how many remain so.
“We’ve notified many people and have seen some clean-up as a result, but we expect others with affected devices will likely encounter problems after the deadline passes,” he said.
The DNS Changer Working Group’s site has a comprehensive explanation of the threat and what steps users can take to protect themselves.
According to security firm Symantec any computer infected with malware will experience a total internet blackout.
“If your computer is still using DNS entries that are pointing to the FBI servers on 9 July, you will lose total access to the internet. No connecting to the office from home, no updating Facebook, nothing until the DNS settings are fixed.”