FBI warns of possible internet blackout Monday

Since last November, the federal government's warning about a harmful malware imbedded into some computers has fallen on deaf ears, and the time for anyone who has an infected computer is running out.

During an FBI sting known as "Operation Ghost Click", the agency took down a network of rogue Domain Name System(DNS) servers used by international hackers, but the damage to more than 400,000 computers worldwide had already been done.

To patch up the problem the hackers caused without taking away internet service for victims, the FBI created new servers to work correctly.

But the agency has decided to take down those servers down on Monday, July 9th, because it feels those affected have had enough time to fix the problem.

"Malware is any kind of computer program that makes your computer do something that you do not want it to do. Whether it's letting someone snoop into your computer or sending your information to a hacker that gives them information on your computer," said Coastal Carolina University Computer Science Professor Dr. John Stamey.

The DNSChanger Malware allowed hackers to override your personal DNS server and use their DNS servers instead.

"They(hackers) set up a program so that it would reroute requests that you make to the internet to their servers," said Stamey.

When a user would go try to view a certain website (i.e., the user would unknowingly be sent to a different website that looks and acts the same. Hackers tried to steal personal information, passwords, sensitive material and internet browsing history using this malware.

Victims have no idea they are infected until they check through the FBI's website to see if their computer contains the virus.

"The big question is what's going to happen," said Stamey. "This Monday, if you have internet connection (and your computer is infected), it will go away, and you'll have to call your internet service provider to figure out how to remove this malware from your computer."

Stamey said the government estimates about 250,000 computers are still infected with the malware worldwide and only 64,000 of those computers are in the United States.

"It's a terrible inconvenience. It's not a problem. You have to look at things in the scope of what they are," said Stamey. "They say that maybe 65,000 people in the United States are affected. That's about the size of Florence County. If you think about it, what that means is the amount of people in Florence County will be inconvenienced for a couple of hours."

According to an FBI press release, "At this time, there is no single patch or fix that can be downloaded and installed to remove this malware," and the agency suggests that victims bring their computers to a computer professional.

Also if you find you have this malware, the FBI advises to have a recent back-up of important documents, photos, music, and other files before attempting to clean the malware.

For the website to test your computer, click here