Malware Program Means Big Problems for Computer Users
The internet is full of hazards and dangers that can have a permanent or highly damaging effect on the capacity of your computer. In some cases, the internet can be used to hack into people’s personal or financial accounts and steal everything about that person. Thankfully, most computer viruses only affect a small number of people in a specific area and the damage can be reversed. But in this newest case, the computer hacking will affect thousands of people all across the world and there could be plenty of damage to be done. What’s going on?
This Monday, July 9th, 2012, security experts predict that about a quarter of a million computer users around the world are at risk of losing any and all access to the internet. This is because of a malicious software program that was responsible for a huge internet scam. Thankfully, the US authorities were able to stop the spread of the virus and shut down the program last November. However, it’s lasting effects are still being felt.
The powerful and dangerous malicious software program is known as Alureon. Many sources on various blogs and news site were reporting the potential damage of the program, with some people even giving it the nickname the “Internet Doomsday” virus.
At this time, computer and security experts said that only a small fraction of computer users were at risk for being attacked by the program. Internet service providers would also be able to assist victims of the virus and get computers up and running again quickly. They said they considered the threat to be small compared with more-prevalent viruses such as Zeus and SpyEye, which infect millions of PCs and are used to commit financial fraud.
As of this week, about 245,000 computers worldwide were still infected by Alureon and its brethren, according to security firm Deteque. That included 45,355 in the United States.
The viruses were designed to redirect Internet traffic through rogue DNS servers controlled by criminals, according to the FBI. DNS servers are computer switchboards that direct Web traffic.
When authorities took down the rogue servers, a federal judge in New York ordered that temporary servers be kept in place while the victims’ machines were repaired. The temporary servers will shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT Monday, which means infected PCs that have not been fixed will no longer be able to connect to the Internet.
Some U.S. Internet providers, including AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Cable, have made temporary arrangements to let their customers access the Internet using the address of the rogue DNS servers.
“It’s a very easy one to fix,” said Gunter Ollmann, vice president of research for security company Damballa. “There are plenty of tools available.”
Many of the machines that remain infected are probably not in active use since most victims were notified of the problem, said security expert Johannes Ullrich, who runs the Internet Storm Center, which monitors Web threats.
The United States has charged seven people for orchestrating the worldwide Internet fraud. Six were arrested in Estonia, while the seventh, who was living in Russia, is still at large. Tallinn has so far extradited two of the men to New York where they appeared in Manhattan federal court.
The case is USA v. Tsastsin et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-cr-878.