FBI warns thousands may lose Internet access in July
More than 300,000 people could be without Internet on July 9.
Users worldwide could lose web access for unknowingly downloading a malicious piece of software. Fortunately, all is not lost.
The FBI, along with government agencies around the world, has announced the release of a website where users can determine whether or not their computer is infected with the malware and how to remove it.
The malware is a product of Rove Digital’s malicious Domain Name System (DNS) servers. It was a fraudulent scheme created by six Estonian nationals and one Russian national aimed at manipulating Internet searches and re-routing computers to certain websites and advertisements, thus generating revenue of up to $14 million for the hijackers, according to a press release by the FBI. The malware also prevented the infected from downloading anti-virus software, exposing them to other viruses as well.
According to the FBI, many infected users may not have noticed a stark difference in their web browsing, aside from slowed web access and disabled anti-virus software.
The men allegedly behind the scheme were arrested in November after a two-year FBI probe called Operation Ghost Click.
“They were organized and operating as a traditional business but profiting illegally as the result of the malware,” said an unidentified FBI cyber agent in a news release. “There was a level of complexity here that we haven’t seen before.”
The FBI originally projected that at least 500,000 of the infected were US computers. They have since scaled back their estimate, stating they believe 85,000 have fallen victim to the fraud, including NASA.
Last month, the FBI set up “temporary clean DNS servers” to ensure victims would not lose Internet access and have time to “clean affected computers and restore their normal DNS settings.”
On July 9, the FBI will shut down these servers, and those who did not remove the malware will lose web access.
The six Estonian nationals remain in custody, while the Russian national remains at large. The charges against the accused hijackers is pending in federal court.