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The Internet Is Broken- Or Is It?

DNS Changer -- all clear

There’s been a lot of hullaballoo over the DNS Changer issue, and the possibility that anyone could suddenly lose internet connectivity this coming Monday, July 9th, 2012.

This sounds pretty familiar to those of us who were computer savvy 13 years ago when the world was running scared from the “inevitable” Y2K crisis. According to that prediction, at 12:00 AM on January 1st, 2000, all computers would stop working because their internal clocks supposedly could not understand the concept of a year 2000.

So what happened?

Nothing. Literally nothing. Not a single computer malfunctioned.

Will it be the same on July 9th?

No. Although it seems similarly ominous at first glance, this situation is quite different from the Y2K “crisis”. Here’s why:

  1. It’s not supposed to affect everybody – only an estimated 350,000 computers worldwide will be affected. Compare that to the actual number of computers online (2 billion!), and the number really isn’t that big.
  2. It’s not due to a glitch – in fact, the organization that will be responsible for the disconnections is none other than the FBI.

But why?

It all has to do with a type of virus called the DNS Changer, which has been around since 2007. DNS, or “Domain Name System”, translates website addresses into IP addresses, which in turn point to the physical location where a website is stored. Computers infected with the DNS Changer virus are pointed to the wrong addresses where fraudsters have set up websites designed to trick the users into giving away their personal information.

In 2009, the FBI tracked the virus to a crime ring and arrested the people responsible. Since they were unable to remove the virus from infected computers, they left the DNS Changer live but altered it to redirect users back to the correct website. Three years later, the FBI will finally be shutting down the DNS Changer, and any infected computers will no longer be able to access the internet.

What should I do?

First of all, if this is the first that you’ve heard about it, your computer probably is not infected. Since the FBI effectively owns the DNS Changer, it knows who has been infected and has attempted to inform everyone infected how to remove the virus. If you want to be extra careful, visit the following link, maintained by the FBI, to find out if you have the virus: https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS. Ihe virus can be removed using any simple anti-virus software

Second of all, this situation should remind us all just how important it is to be cautious online. Don’t visit websites you don’t trust and don’t download or install anything that you don’t need. For more online security tips, read Safe Online Shopping or visit the Payza Security Center.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net