Internet Disruption Concern

BBB urges consumers and business owners to run a simple diagnostic test to see if they are affected by a possible Internet disruption.

Hundreds of thousands of Internet users may lose their online access on July 9, 2012, and Better Business Bureau is urging all consumers and businesses to run a quick and easy diagnostic test to see if their computers are infected. The FBI’s DNS Changer Working Group at dcwg.org/detect can detect the malware and explain how to fix infected machines.

“Everyone should check to see if their computer is infected,” urged BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty. “It takes less than a minute to check and, if your equipment is clean, there is nothing more you need to do. If your computer is infected, the DNS Changer Working Group recommends the necessary steps to save your computer. But this must be done by July 9th or you could lose internet access.”

Last November, the FBI took down the servers of international hackers operating out of Estonia. Their sophisticated Internet fraud scheme infected more than four million computers located in over 100 countries. Of the computers infected with malware, at least 500,000 were in the United States, including computers belonging to US government agencies, such as NASA; educational institutions; non-profit organizations; commercial businesses; and individuals.

The malware secretly altered the settings on infected computers enabling the scammers to digitally hijack Internet searches and re-route computers to certain websites and advertisements. This generated at least $14 million in fees to the scammers who were paid each time these websites or ads were clicked on or viewed by users. The malware also prevented the installation of anti-virus software and operating system updates on infected computers, leaving those computers and their users unable to detect or stop the malware attacks, and exposing them to attacks by other viruses.

If the servers had simply been shut down, the victims’ computers would no longer be able to access the internet. Instead, the FBI set up clean servers to replace the ones that were running the scam, and victims have been redirected to those clean servers ever since, usually without any knowledge they’d been infected in the first place.

Originally the rescue servers were to be active until March, but a court ruling extended the program until July 9th. At that time the clean servers will be turned off and anyone who is still infected with the malware will lose their internet access. The FBI believes there are still about 360,000 infected computers in a dozen countries, including the US and Canada.

Better Business Bureau, Inc. (BBB) has been serving U.S consumers and businesses for 100 years and is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting trust in the marketplace. Accountability, education and recognition of marketplace role models are key components to the BBB's mission. Today, the BBB has a membership of approximately 8,000 companies in Nebraska, South Dakota and southwest Iowa. Consumers are encouraged to report complaints and possible scams to the BBB. As a matter of policy, the BBB does not endorse any product, service or company. For more information, please visit bbb.org and “Start With Trust”.


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