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If you can’t live without the Internet (and we all know many of us can’t) be afraid…be very afraid. More than 277,000 computers worldwide may lose their Internet service on Monday (today!) due to some malicious international hackers who ran an online advertising scam over a year ago to take over computers.
The malware that infects these computers redirects data traveling to and from an affected PC, then routes traffic through rogue computer servers controlled by the hackers. The criminals are then able to steer victims to certain websites and steal personal and financial information. Seriously, I always wonder how these hackers pull off such diabolical schemes!
The scam initially threatened more than 570,000 machines, but the FBI got wind of the plan over a year ago. Agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their Internet service. So your machine may still be infected – it’s estimated that more than 64,000 of the computers that remain at risk are in the US.
People with infected computers probably don’t even know it, but they’ll have a problem when the rogue servers are finally taken down in a few days. The temporary system will be shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Monday, July 9, causing people with infected computers to lose their ability to go online.
Don’t worry, though: there is a way to tell if your computer is infected. You can visit the FBI-approved website http://www.dcwg.org where you will find links to services that will run a quick check on your PC, as well as guidelines to manually carry out a deeper malware inspection. Keep in mind, malware is difficult to detect and often slows down the time it takes for websites to load.
It’s also important to always have an updated, working antivirus protection program on your PC and to educate yourself about how to use the scanning and cleanup tools that come with these antivirus products. These programs aren’t perfect, but they’ll go a long way towards protecting your device.
Internet service providers have plans to try to help keep victims online. If you do lose Internet service on Monday as a result, you will have to contact your Internet service provider for help reconnecting to the Internet. Don’t forget to request guidance on how to delete the malware, or criminals will continue to control your machine!
Welp, I’m off to scan my computer now and you should be, too!