For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying in line and lost Internet connections this summer.
Unknown to most of them, your problem began when hackers ran a scam international online advertising to take control of infected computers worldwide. In a highly unusual response, the FBI created a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent disruption of the Internet for infected users. But that system is to be closed.
The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by your security partner, http://www.dcwg.org, informing them whether they are infected and explains how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users can not connect to the Internet.
Most victims do not even know their computers have been infected, although malicious software that has probably decreased your surfing habits and your antivirus software disabled, so that their machines are more vulnerable to other problems.
Last November, the FBI and other authorities were preparing to kill a hacker ring that had been running a scam Internet advertising in a massive network of infected computers.
"We began to realize that it might have a bit of a problem on our hands, because ... if you just pull the plug on their criminal infrastructure and threw everybody in jail, the victims of this were to be without internet service, "said Tom Grasso, an FBI special agent monitoring. "The average user could open Internet Explorer and get" page not found "and that the Internet is broken."
On the night of the arrests, the agency led to Paul Vixie, president and founder of Internet Systems Consortium, to install two Internet servers to take the place of truck seized rogue servers that infected computers are used. Federal authorities planned to keep their servers online until March, giving the opportunity for everyone to clean their computers. But there was not enough time. A federal judge in New York extended the deadline until July.
Now, Grasso said, "the full-court press is on getting people to tackle this problem." And it''s up to computer users to check their PCs.
Hackers infect a network of more than 570,000 computers probably worldwide. They took advantage of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows operating system to install malicious software on victims'' computers. This disables anti-virus updates and has changed the way teams combine Internet addresses behind the scenes in the system of Internet domain names.
The DNS system is a network of servers that translate a web address - as www.ap.org - in the numerical addresses used by ordenadores.Computadoras of the victims were reprogrammed to userogue DNS servers are owned by the attackers. This allowed the attackers to redirect computers to fraudulent versions of any website.
Hackers profited from ads appearing on websites that victims were tricked into visiting.The scam hackers scored at least 14 million dollars, according to the FBI. He also made thousands of computers that rely on rogue servers for Internet browsing.
When the FBI arrested six Estonians last November, the agency replaced the rogue servers, clean with Vixie. Installing and running the two surrogate servers for eight months, is costing the federal government about $ 87,000.
The number of victims is difficult to pin down, but the FBI believes that the day of the arrests, at least 568,000 web links using the only rogue servers. Five months later, the FBI estimates that the number has fallen to less than 360,000. The U.S. have a majority, about 85,000, federal authorities said. Other countries with more than 20,000 each are: Italy, India, England and Germany. Smaller numbers are in line in Spain, France, Canada, China and Mexico.
Vixie said most of the victims are probably the origin of individual users rather than companies with technology staff to routinely check the computers.
FBI officials said they held an unusual system to avoid any appearance of government interference in the Internet or private computers. And while this is the first time that the FBI uses, not the last.
"This is the future of what we do," said Eric Strom, head of the unit of the FBI Cyber Division. ''Until there is a change in the law, both within and outside the United States to catch up with the cyber problem, we will have to go down these roads, pioneers if you will, in this kind of research.''
Now, he said, each time the agency is nearing the end of a case of cyber, "we got to the point where you say, how we''re going to do this, how we will clean the system" without creating a bigger mess than before.