Does Monday spell doom for thousands of American Internet users trying to connect to the Web? Is that the best case scenario after months of the FBI and Homeland Security trying to get rid of this nasty virus?
While even mentioning America’s KGB (aka..Homeland Security) makes me smell a rat, could it be true or is this the “Black flag”. (Black Flag operations are covert operations designed to deceive in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities.)
Supposedly in November, the FBI put in place a temporary fix that let computers infected with the doomsday virus still connect to the Internet. That bought tech companies some time to come up with a real cure.
But on Monday, the FBI is lifting its stopgap measure, leaving users and companies to solve the problem on their own.
The bureau predicts hundreds of thousands of computers are still at risk of losing the ability to connect to the Web Worldwide. This time around, the feds were willing to step in. But the administration hopes Internet companies will take more responsibility for policing viruses on their own.
An FCC official said the doomsday virus has been a good example of private industry being urged to adopt the agency’s voluntary recommendations.
“Internet service providers, covering more than 80 percent of U.S. users, voluntarily committed to [its] recommendations regarding DNSSEC, the security protocol that would help to mitigate threats like the Doomsday attack,”
The trouble started when international hackers ran an online advertising scam, known as “Operation Ghost Click,” that infected computers with a virus called DNSChanger. The hackers used malware allowing them “to manipulate the multi-billion-dollar Internet advertising industry,” leaving users of infected machines “unaware that their computers had been compromised,” according to an FBI release.
After a two-year investigation, the FBI, in conjunction with NASA’s inspector general and the Estonian police, arrested several Estonian citizens connected with the international cyber ring last November.
When the FBI went to take down the malicious servers the hackers were using to control infected machines, some officials realized that doing so would cause victims to lose Internet service. To guard against that possibility, the agency set up a few replacement servers. But that setup expires Monday.
“We have a really strong relationship with private industry, especially in our cyber division,” Kelly Langmesser, an FBI spokeswoman, said in an interview Friday. “We really encourage them to come forward with problems.”
To check whether a computer has been infected, computer users can visit a special website Internet experts set up to deal with the problem. At the site, users can check to see if their computer is affected and, if so, learn how to fix it.
“This kind of malware is good at catching a lot of people who aren’t protected,” said James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Government computers are not very likely to be harmed, Lewis noted, but this episode will shed light on potential vulnerabilities there, too.
“One of the things we find out routinely is that some agencies do a great job of protecting themselves from malware and others don’t,” Lewis said.