Thousands may lose internet access today

Posted by Emma Woollacott

If you're reading this, then you're OK - but, today, many people around the world will have a nasty surprise.

At midnight last night, the FBI shut down the servers it was using to keep internet service for millions of people going following a raid on hackers last year.

Last November, the FBI arrested six Estonians and a Russian who it said had used a piece of malware called DNSChanger to infect as many as four million computers round the world, half a million of them in the US.

That's a lot of computers, and rather than simply switch off the gang's servers, the FBI substituted some of its own. It's since been warning people to check for an infection, as they'd lose internet service altogether when the FBI servers were finally turned off.

And that switch-off happened last night, leaving an estimated 250,000 computers around the world still infected, of which as many as 45,000 are in the US.

"We’ve been using the last eight months to go out and clean up the infected computers, but we don’t have everybody," says supervisory secial agent Thomas Grasso of the FBI's Cyber Division.

For these people, there are a couple of solutions, although they're not likely to be easy. First, they can contact service providers, most of which have techniques to help.

Alternatively, thewy may be able to use an uninfected machine to download the free DNSChanger virus scan and removal software available here from the DNSChanger Working Group, and then use removable media such as a USB flash drive to install it on the infected machine.