Posted: Apr 15 2012
LOS ANGELES – For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.
The problem began when six Estonian hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control over 570,000 computers around the world. To prevent internet disruptions, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers. That system is going to be shut down come July 2012.
As the FBI and other authorities got set to arrest the ring in November, “we started to realize that … if we just pulled the plug on their criminal infrastructure and threw everybody in jail, the victims of this were going to be without Internet service,” said FBI supervisory special agent Tom Grasso. “The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get ‘page not found’ and think the Internet is broken.”
Most victims don’t even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.
The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, http://www.dcwg.org , that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem.
After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.
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