If you’re reading this article online, then it is a definitive confirmation that your computer is DNSChanger malware infection-free and you’re fine. 9th July 2012, the much hyped Internet doomsday deadline that was supposed to see thousands if not millions of people knocked off the Internet, has passed but thankfully, as it appears, only a very few people were affected. However, fair warning. The reality is that DNSChanger is ‘looking‘ like a disaster averted. But is that the reality after all? Lets not forget that this shutdown will likely pose a problem for anyone whose DNS settings still point to the former rogue DNSChanger network. And ironically, nobody could tell for sure just yet, because of the very nature of this global Internet threat! DNSChanger actually might have taken a whole bunch of people offline, but who would notice if they can’t Tweet their woes or write in public online forums?
At 12:01 a.m. on 9th July 2012 Monday, the FBI turned off Internet servers kicking affected users offline unless they followed previous alerts to modify their DNS settings. FBI’s safety Internet servers were functioning as a temporary safety net to keep infected computers online for the past eight months. A court order the agency had gotten to keep the servers running expired, and was not renewed.
FBI Kills DNSChanger Malware Network, But How Many Computers Are Affected?
How many people could be taken offline by the DNSChanger deadline? If you are looking for definite numbers (of affected computers who are taken offline by this malware), FBI officials have been tracking the number of computers they believe still may be infected by the malware. As of Sunday night, there were about 41,800 in the U.S., down from 45,600 on July 4. Worldwide, the total is roughly 211,000 infected.
Opinions seem to vary, pointing to as few as several thousand or as many as 300,000. Of the more than 570,000 computers originally infected, around 250,000 are still bit by the virus, according to the FBI.
Affected Computers, by Country
By country, the DNSChanger risk was concentrated in the U.S., according to FBI stats. More than 41,000 machines were hit by DNSChanger. Italy had nearly 22,000 machines infected and India had more than 19,000 systems hit with DNSChanger. Great Britain had more than 13,000 machines infected and Australia nearly had 7,000.
An estimated 2.3 billion people around the world use the Internet, according to Internet World Stats. Considering that there are millions of Internet users across the country, several thousand losing access isn’t a big deal – unless you are one of them.
What to Do if Your Computer is Taken Offline by DNSChanger Malware?
Thankfully, as of writing of this article, the effect of the internet shutdown should be minimal, at least according to the ISPs. People who are unable to get online should call their ISP to see if their computers are infected.
Anyway, this shutdown of the so-called safety servers by FBI has opened up a can of worms. There are many people who simply don’t trust the government, and believe that federal authorities are only trying to spy on them, or take over the Internet, by pushing solutions to the infection. Blogs and other Internet forums are riddled with postings warning of the government using the malware as a ploy to breach American citizens’ computers – a charge the FBI and other security experts familiar with the malware quickly denounced as ridiculous.
Interestingly, there is an underlying sense that this has been much ado about nothing – like the hoopla over Y2K, when the transition to the year 2000 presented technical problems and fears that some computers would stop working because they were not set up for the date change. In the end, as in this case, there were very few problems — or at least that is what we are made to believe at this point, anyway!