Will Your Computer Work on Monday?

The information was released months ago, but little attention has been paid to the warnings and articles that your computer may stop working on Monday, July 9.  Until now.  Various media outlets are finally reporting the story and it is taking many by surprise, especially because the story sounds so much like the "do this or your computer will implode" hoaxes that we have been trained to ignore.  Well, this one is not a hoax and it is completely possible that your computer will not be able to connect to the Internet on Monday.

Huh, What is This About?

In November 2011, the FBI announced details of what they called Operation Ghost Click, where "six Estonian nationals have been arrested and charged with running a sophisticated Internet fraud ring that infected millions of computers worldwide with a virus and enabled the thieves to manipulate the multi-billion-dollar Internet advertising industry. Users of infected machines were unaware that their computers had been compromised—or that the malicious software rendered their machines vulnerable to a host of other viruses."

MSNBC provides a simple explanation of what happened following the announcement:

"When the FBI went in to take down the hackers late last year, agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their Internet service.  In a highly unusual move, the FBI set up a safety net. They brought in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet."

The safety net that the FBI created will go away at midnight on Monday, July 9, 2012 and if your computer is one of the estimated 64,000 in the United States that is infected, you will not be able to connect to the Internet.  In addition to individual computer users, it is reported that 50 Fortune 500 companies are also impacted.

According to Shadowserver (a foundation of security professionals whose mission is to stop cybercrime), the United States, Italy, India, Germany, and the United Kingdom have the most infected computers.

How Do I Check To See If My Computer Needs The Fix?

DNS CheckerThe DNS Changer Working Group (DCWG) is an ad hoc group of subject matter experts that worked with the FBI and is now helping to remediate malicious servers. Computer owners in the United States can visit http://www.dns-ok.us/ to check if their computer is infected.  If you receive a green screen (see picture to the right), your computer is likely not infected.  If you receive a red screen, you will need to fix your computer immediately.  

How Do I Fix My Computer?

DCWG provides a list of resources you will need to remove the malicious software and fix your computer. The two resources we recommend are Microsoft Windows Defender Offline and Microsoft Safety Scanner

Before beginning any fix, back up all important data on your computer (either to a portable hard drive or a cloud service).

If you need help with cleaning up your infected computer or just have questions about the process, drop a note to our Support Desk