FBI: Web will go dark for 350,000 infected Internet users starting July 9

ghost click

If you’re one of an unlucky 350,000 Internet users out there, your Internet connection could black out on July 9.

In an effort to clean up the mess left behind by an “Internet fraud ring,” the FBI is urging Internet users to check their computers for an infection by a DNSChanger, a DNS redirecting malware that infected over 4.2 million computers, and could still affect many.

In November 2011, in an FBI sting called “Operation Ghost Click,” six Estonian nationals were arrested for running a sophisticated crime ring. Their malware, DNSChanger, netted them over $14 million in illicit revenue. The malware in question worked like this: When you click on a link to a website or type in its URL, your computer sends a request to a DNS server, which translates the URL into the appropriate IP address. The IP address is sent back to your browser, which can then find the website in question. The DNSChanger would hijack the requests of infected users and redirect the requests to their own DNS servers. Their DNS servers would then translate the URLs into an illegitimate IP address and trick the browser into displaying a different website. Essentially, trying to access YouTube could send you to a porn site.

How did DNSChanger benefit its creators and harm its victims?

1. Directing users away from a legitimate site denies that site the traffic (and ad revenue) it would have had.

2. Redirected users were funneled to the website of the ring’s customers, who believed they were paying for traffic from Internet users who intended to click on their ads.

3. Users who were redirected to the website of a business due to the ring may have been perceived as being illegitimate businesses.

4. The DNSChanger was built to also prevent users from cleaning the malware using anti-virus software, which then would prevent users from protecting themselves against other viruses and malware.

Due to millions of Internet users who were infected and relying on these fake DNS servers to access websites, the government decided against immediately shutting it down and instead opted to convert them to temporary clean DNS servers. But having cleaned all but 350,000 devices, DWCG, the organization tasked to maintain and oversee the servers, announced that the servers will be shut down on July 9. Consequently, infected devices will lose access to the Internet.

If you’d like to check to see if your computer is DNSChanger-free or have been infected, you can visit DWCG’s site and have your computer checked in a diagnosis that takes mere seconds. If you’re given the clean bill of health you should be green-lighted like below.

dns ok
Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Computing

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.
Mobile

How to switch from iPhone to Android: The ultimate guide

If you've decided to bridge the great tech divide and leave Apple's walled garden for the unknown shores of Android, then you'll find all the tips and advice you need to begin switching from an iPhone to an Android device.
Computing

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.
Gaming

The most common Nintendo 3DS problems, and how to fix them

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.
Computing

Hitting ‘Check for updates’ in Windows 10 opts you into beta releases

Users who are careful about keeping their system updated should watch out -- Microsoft revealed this week that clicking the Check for updates button in Windows can opt you in to testing beta code.
Computing

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.
Computing

Which Macs are compatible with MacOS Mojave?

Is your computer ready for Apple's big Mojave update? Here's what you need to know about MacOS Mojave compatibility, what Macs can successful download Mojave, and the requirements you need to know about.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.