21st February 2012

The Web Goes Dark For Some On March 8th

On March 8th, the Internet will go dark for hundreds, possibly even thousands of users.  And it will be the FBI’s fault.

Not really though, but that grabbed your attention, didn’t it?  Here’s the deal.  Back in November, the FBI took down a malware website that was infecting computers around the World and changing the infected user’s DNS settings to point to hacker-controlled networks.  If you were one of the unlucky, you would suddenly find your computer no longer gave you proper search results, and you would be seeing ads pop up on sites that shouldn’t have any (making money for the hackers in the process), and, most serious, you would find that your antivirus would no longer update.This was a very major thing… these hackers had control over what sites you could go to, what sites you actually saw, and how much money you would be making them.  They could capture traffic passing through their servers and manipulate it how they wanted, and the user was powerless to stop it due to how deep the infection went.

This is where the FBI stepped in and took down the malicious servers.  By the way, this is also where the problems really start for those who were infected.

Quickie terms, you need at least 1 DNS server in order for your computer to function on the Web.  DNS servers are what tell your computer where it needs to go when you type in an address for a webpage… it’s also what tells your antivirus where to get the latest updates from, and where Windows should get its updates from as well.  Without DNS, 99% of the web would grind to a halt.

Unfortunately for all those who were infected, that is exactly what would happen the moment those hacker DNS Servers were taken down.  In an effort to hold off on the chaos that would ensue, the FBI set up their own temporary servers to capture the infected traffic, sending it on to its proper destination.  This brought on its own problems though… they plan to only keep these DNS servers live for 120 days before pulling the plug.  Understandable, as their job is to catch the bad guys, not run DNS networks for people who picked up a virus.  But many news outlets failed to post any information in regards to this, leaving the infected blissfully unaware that their days on the web were numbered… and that number was getting pretty small.

March 8th brings us to the 120 days… and when the FBI disconnects their servers, a lot of people are going to suddenly discover that they cannot reach their LOLCats, or YouTube, or Netflix.  No more Facebook, Twitter, or Memes.  Some (like myself) would not really see this as a bad thing, but to some it is the apocalypse.

“So what do we do?  How do I know if I’m infected?”

Lucky for you, Avira developed a small but useful tool that will, when run, quickly check your computers DNS settings to see if they are pointed to the right place, or if you’re living the web on the FBI’s borrowed time. This link will bring you to an informative webpage which includes a link to the download… though I have not yet tested the program’s fixing abilities, they say that once the scan is done, it will perform a repair of your DNS settings if it discovers an issue (by restoring them to Windows Standard).  After you perform the fix, you will have to reboot your computer.  After the PC comes back up, run the tool again to make sure that you are clean.

Time is running out… there is just over 2 weeks left.  Make sure you won’t be one of the affected infected. Get your computer patched up so you are no longer redirected. But if you miss the deadline, get your PC resurrected.  Don’t leave it uncorrected and become disconnected.

Okay, I’m done now.  This is why I’m IT/BOFH and not a writer…

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 11:48 am and is filed under Editorials, National News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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