Now about 24 hours are left to check desktops and laptops for a computer virus that originally stole computers' Domain Name Systems (DNS) — the Internet service that converts URLs, such as AOL.com or Yahoo.com, into numerical addresses that computers use to communicate. Last November, FBI officials arrested the virus’ creators, after a two-year investigation dubbed Operation Ghost Click. Government officials temporarily took over the gained computer authorizations to deploy clean DNS servers, allowing infected machines to still access the Internet. But that stop-gap measure ends Monday morning, July 9.
On a national basis, authorities this week indicated 60,000-plus American laptops and desktops still were infected with the notorious DNSChanger Malware—a computer virus that was initiated five years ago by virus writers.
Editor's Note: Double-check computers Sunday (today) to ensure you will not face problems Monday (tomorrow).
Stephanie Haworth, a technician at , said local computer users have been asking about the virus this past week. "The writers of this virus pointed computers to their website and controlled where computer traffic went. Since it was discovered, the U.S. government took over that server, but now will be shutting down the server that has been assisting the compromised computers," she said.
"You don't want to not check out your own situation."
Malware is the generic term for destructive viruses and worms that alter the way computers work. This particular virus, reportedly created by six Estonian nationals to manipulate the Internet advertising industry, affected roughly four million computers in more than 100 countries—including individuals, businesses, and government agencies, such as NASA.
The malicious DNS servers gave fake answers, altering user searches and promoting fictitious and dangerous products. Because every web search starts with DNS, the malware showed users an altered version of the Internet.
Federal authorities and Georgia Tech security experts established a detection and repair website: http://www.dcwg.org/. By clicking on a link on the site’s Homepage, visitors can run a self-diagnostic test on their machine.
Haworth said computer users who have run an updated anti-virus program on their computers in the past year should have taken care of this virus.
But, it does not hurt to check one more time while there still is time, she said.
For local computer users who discover they have no Internet access on Monday, Haworth said they could bring in infected computers for diagnostic checks. "Depending on the severity of the problem, we sometimes can fix computers during the same day or next day," she said.
To help avoid viruses, such as this one, Haworth reminds computer users:
- Never click on unknown links in emails.
- Don't click on unknown attachments.