Google has begun providing a warning to visitors who appear to be infected with DNSChanger, a malware whichattempts to redirect users to various websites by modifying theirDNS settings. The notification is a highly visible alert whichtells the user they are infected and links to instructions forremoving DNSChanger. In February, we reported that over 4 million computers were infected with the bug. Google's initiative is spurred by the expiration of a court orderon July 9. |
Once the court order ends, there will be no obligationfor the Internet Systems Consortium to maintain temporary DNSservers which allow users infected with DNSChanger to remainonline. With the shutdown of DNSChanger's infrastructure and thediscontinuation of those temporary servers, infected users willhave invalid DNS settings -- a problem which effectively results inno Internet access. To understand this though, you need to alsounderstand a little bit about how DNS and DNSChanger works. In really basic terms, DNS, or "domain name system" is animportant service through which Internet domains (e.g.techspot.com) point web surfers to the correct websites andservers.
Without DNS, the Internet would be a very unfriendlyplace. When a computer is infected with DNSChanger, the malware modifiesthe PC in such a way that it bypasses bona fide DNS servers.Legitimate DNS settings are often provided by your ISPautomatically, but can also be set manually -- and wrongly, atthat. DNSChanger would then redirect that user's Internet trafficthrough its own DNS servers. From then on, as an infected usercruises the web, the malware's rogue servers would deceptivelyredirect that person to advertisements, illicit or dangerousmaterial and spy on them without their knowledge.
Particularly dangerous was DNSChanger's ability to also change DNS settings on routers , effectively spreading the issue from a local computer to anentire network. For some users, even after their computers aremalware-free, issues will persist until they remove the harmfulchanges made to their router. It is interesting to note that Google performed a similar service last summer , in order to protect its users from an unrelated DNS-based malwareattack. Users can check if they are infected with DNSChanger here and may remove the malware by following these instructions .
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