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WATCH: Don’t Let the Estonian DNS Scam Be the End of the Internet for your Computer

Last year four Estonian nationals set up an elaborate network of servers that displayed webpages that mimicked legitimate websites. Find out if you are a victim before it's too late.

The “DNS” or Domain Name System is vital to computer communication over networks, such as the Internet. It is the system that converts an easily remembered URL (www.atnetplus.com), to a numerical addressing system that is Internet routable (74.219.100.128). Think of it as similar to the contact list in your cell phone. You select the contact name and the phone connects you to the number associated with it so that you can converse with that person.

Last year four Estonian nationals set up an elaborate network of servers that displayed webpages that mimicked legitimate websites. In actuality, the false pages took you to the Estonian servers, which allowed them to reap advertising profits of about $14 million. In addition, users were exposed to viruses and identity theft. After the FBI shut down the hacking scheme, they were forced to leave the Estonian servers up and running for the victims. Otherwise, at that time, the nearly 4 million computers that were infected would have been unable to connect to the Internet.

That was back in October, and the cost of the operation has grown too much for Congress to allow it to continue. The FBI has been working tirelessly to reach out to those with infected computers and the latest estimate is that only about 100,000 computers are still being routed through the servers taken over by the FBI. Regardless, on July 9th, the FBI is going to pull the plug. If your computer is one of those still infected you only have a few days until you will no longer be able to access the World Wide Web… no more E-mail, no more Facebook.

Statistically, you have very little chance of being infected, but it never hurts to check. You can find out if your computer has the “DNSchanger” malware by visiting the diagnostic website that the FBI setup at http://www.dns-ok.us/. This tool looks at your DNS and tells you whether you were infected or not. A green background means you are okay, but a red background means you need to contact your IT support to fix the problem before the July 9 deadline.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michelle Bores July 07, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Hello! For the history and more correct, detailed info on this, visit http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/11/how-the-most-massive-botnet-scam-ever-made-millions-for-estonian-hackers/ ajb
Matt Graham July 09, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Working for a company called GrayTechs doing computer repair in North Canton, Ohio, and also as the tech guy for my friends and family, I've seen that there's a lot of misconceptions surrounding what exactly this whole thing is. Most of my friends and our customers seem to be equating this to the equivalent of the Y2K scare, while in actuality, it's nothing like it at all. They seem to think like this is some sort of attack on the Internet itself, which is completely untrue. It's mainly ignorance on the user's part. Google, for example, has been alerting people infected with the virus for some time now. Also, the DNSChanger virus is probably not the only problem on these computers, so their search has probably been hijacked as well. Matt Graham GrayTechs Computer Services http://www.graytechs.com
Debbie S. July 09, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Matt - ah, a breath of fresh air from someone with some knowledge! Can you please go to the Patch thread I'm linking to below and comment, because they think I am a heartless beast over there for saying that it's a user problem if they lose internet connectivity over this! http://stow.patch.com/articles/thousands-may-lose-internet-monday-because-of-computer-virus

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