July 9th and the Dreaded “DNS Changer”

July 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

What’s the big deal about DNSChanger?

The big deal is back in 2011 the FBI and an international team busted a group of Estonians (Estonia is south of Finland) running an worldwide fraud ring using the Internet.  Called Operation: Ghost Click, the FBI found the criminals installed malware that would change where a computer would find websites (called changing the DNS server), pointing you to counterfeit websites instead. To prevent infected computer users from losing their Internet, the FBI replaced the criminals bad DNS server with a good DNS server.

But that good server will be shut down on July 9th. And if your PC or Mac was infected by this DNS Changer malware and didn’t get it removed, you could lose their Internet access July 9th.

What is Malware? Is it different from a computer Virus?

Yes, I threw in quite a few geeky words that you may have heard of but don’t know what they mean.  Allow me do de-geek the mystery of them for you.

MalwareMal meaning “bad” in Latin–is the general term for any harmful or bad software.  Computer viruses,  spyware, trojans, worms, and rootkits to name a few are types of malware.

Servers.  A lot of people ask me “what is a server? “.  Well, a server serves others. Just like a waitress (or server) at a restaurant, a computer server’s job is to serve the needs of other computers.  And just like doctors, computer servers have a variety of specialties. The best known computer servers are those that handle your e-mail.

DNS Server.  DNS stands for “Domain Name System”.  A  DNS server is an English-to-French dictionary–but instead of English-to-French,  it’s Human-to-Computer. When you type the domain name http://www.paypal.com  in your Internet browser, your computer needs a DNS server to tell it what that means in Computer-speak. The DNS server finds http://www.paypal.com in its list and tells your computer “Oh, they mean go to 173.0.84.34”. If you type the number (called an IP Address) in your browser, your computer doesn’t need the DNS server (try it). But what cat (or human) is gonna remember all those different IP address numbers?

If your computer has been infected by the DNSChanger, that means it’s being told to go to a DNS server with bogus list of numbers to redirect your computer to phishing sites  (See my articles No Phishing Here and This Phish Ain’t Byte-ing to find out more) or ads or scareware (See Phoney Virus Cleaners for what scareware is).

How can I see if my computer has it?

There are a couple of sites the FBI has listed on it’s that you can go to to check to see if your computer hasn’t been affected by the attack.  If you can’t get on to FBI.gov due to the high volume of people trying to get the information, use any of these direct links for testing your computer:

What if I’m infected?!

If your PC or Mac is infected, the surest way to remove any trace of any malware is to erase your hard drive and reinstall your Operating System and all of your software.

But before you resort to that you can try these repair tools first:

Of course, by keeping your all of your Anti-malware, Internet security software up to date and regular scanning helps to reduce your chances of being infected.

If you want to get more information about the DNS Changer malware, go to http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/november/malware_110911

By following these tips, July 9th will only be remembered as Tom Hanks’ birthday.

–The Computer Cat

 

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Entry filed under: computer help, freeware, grandparents, newbies, virus alert. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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