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May 022012
 
 May 2, 2012  Posted by  Money
laptop caution

There may be a serious threat hiding inside your computer that will prevent you from connecting with the internet if you are infected. This is not a joke. There’s a warning on the FBI website, which is working with foreign governments to control this nasty piece of malware, which hijacks the DNS settings inside your hard drive that let you connect with websites. Already, more than four million computers worldwide – both personal and corporate – have been infected.

The threat is serious enough that computer scientists including from Georgia Tech and the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance have written and published detection fixes in more than a dozen languages, including Dutch, Finnish and Swedish. The group – called DNS Changer Working Group — also is working with major internet service providers (ISPs) including AT&T, Bell Canada, Century Link, Comcast, COX and Verizon, to alert their customers, too.

Internet Doomsday, as it’s being called, is July 9, 2012. You have until then to check whether your computer is infected with what’s being called the DNS Changer malware, and to download the free fix if it is infected. But don’t wait until then. DNS Changer malware is an equal opportunity bug, which can affect both PCs and Macs. According to Technolog on MSNBC, this malware is nasty enough to wipe out your comptuer’s anti-virus software, which is why the DNS Changer Working Group also has links to fixes on anti-virus software by Kapersky, Norton, McAfee, Microsoft Windows Defender and Apple’s MacScan.

I checked my own computer, and got the green light, but you might not be so lucky. And I plan to check my computer periodically until July 9, just in case. The FBI shut down the scheme in November 2011, when it arrested six Estonian nationals in New York City on computer fraud charges. But the cyber thieves had already set off a time bomb to reset and control internet connections around the world.

A court order was put in place at that time to authorize an international internet consortium to issue a worldwide system to detect and fix the malware.  That court order expires on July 9, 2012, and unless it’s extended, it’s lights out for your computer on July 9 if it has been infected and not fixed.

 

Evelyn Kanter

Evelyn Kanter is an award-winning journalist who has been reporting on good deals and warning about bad ones, for longer than she cares to admit publicly. A native and lifelong New Yorker, she was the first consumer reporter for CBS News and for WABC TV “Eyewitness News” and helped launch the “Sales and Bargains” column in New York Magazine. Evelyn is the author or editor of more than a dozen travel guidebooks and apps, including Peaceful Places New York City, and owns and operates NYC On The Cheap and EcoXplorer. A long-time tree-hugger, Evelyn also writes about green travel, green cars and saving the green in your wallet for national and regional publications, including a column syndicated by Motor Matters and for Fodors.com, AAA magazines and airline inflights.

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