FBI Warning of Internet Shutdown: Internet Doomsday (yawn)

FBI Warning of Internet Shutdown: Internet Doomsday | Tech Tips Article by PcCG

FBI Warning of Internet Shutdown: Internet Doomsday (yawn)

For the audio podcast on this topic see: Internet Doomsday Podcast

This is the headline you see all over the place. It’s misleading, and not as dramatic as many may want you to believe.

A perfect example while researching this of media hysteria would be this from the “indiatimes” (hey, it was the first link alright?): “LONDON: American agency FBI will block internet services in over 350,000 personal computers across the world.”

No – the government isn’t doing a “big brother move” to shut people down.

If, in the very slim chance, your internet shuts down on July 9th you don’t have to worry that dudes in black suits are going to be kicking down your door at any moment…. Even though the RIAA and MPAA would love that… but I digress.

It simply means you have a virus, and ya need to get that taken care of.

The quote from above would have been more accurately written “The FBI is going to take down their temporary servers that supplemented the virus servers, and if you are still using those servers (i.e. still infected), your internet will stop working.” They aren’t blocking you… they are just taking down their temporary supplemental servers that replaced the bad guy servers.

For all my customers who have heeded my advice, and have Norton Internet Security installed, you’re fine. For most other people who have a decent anti-virus installed, you’re probably fine too. For anyone who doesn’t have an up-to-date working anti-virus… you love living on the edge!

What is really going on if you care..

In techy-terms, what the virus did was hijack your DNS settings. Whenever you visit a webpage, such as www.pccomputerguy.com – a system behind the scenes, called a DNS server, translates that address into a set of numbers. All internet stuff works off a set of numbers called an IP address. Think of IP addresses as phone numbers. So pccomputerguy.com has a “phone number”, or rather an ip address. The DNS server converts the English pccomputerguy.com into those numbers for you.

The virus changed your legitimate DNS settings to it’s bad DNS settings. Basically it told your computer instead of asking a proper DNS server to do the translation, ask the bad one instead… and thus you were fed sites you didn’t actually want, often infested with porn, viruses or other junk.

So the FBI came in, shut down those bad DNS servers. But if they left it at that, any computers that were infected (a lot) would no longer have a DNS server to access, and therefore no way to translate those addresses (at least until you cleaned up and repaired the damage). So they kindly setup good DNS servers at the same address as the bad DNS servers. But… it ain’t their game to run DNS servers for ever, and so on July 8th, they are taking those DNS servers down. You are supposed to be using “proper” DNS servers from your ISP… it’s faster among other things.

If you want to be extra diligent, you can visit http://www.dcwg.org and they’ll do a scan on your computer to ensure all is fine for you. You can also download and run a full scan of malwarebytes, a great free malware fighting champion from http://www.malwarebytes.org

But don’t panic, don’t get caught up in the poorly written headlines. As a report claims, 80,000 possible computers in the US may go offline (until the virus is removed)… that’s out of a billion in the US? Odds are you are fine, and if not, just give me a ring.