Monday is the "drop dead" date for people whose computers are still infected with the DNSChanger Trojan to get rid of it. Those who haven't may not lose Internet access entirely, but Paul Vixie, of the nonprofit Internet Systems Consortium (ISC), said, "some of them will lose the ability to look up domain names, which will stop their Internet access in most cases. Others will see significant slowdowns."
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It is not as if people -- and enterprises -- have not been warned, or had time to address the problem. The DCWG has offered assistance in detecting and getting rid of the malware for months. The DNSChanger Check-up page helps users tell if a system on their network is infected. Another page offers help in cleaning up that infection.
The malware, discovered in 2006, infected more than four million computers and routers. It wasn't until November 2011 that the FBI and Estonian police, in what was called "Operation Ghost Click," arrested six Estonians, charging them with multiple cybercrimes.
The FBI seized more than 100 command-and-control servers hosted in U.S. data centers. But if they had shut them down immediately, millions of victims would have been disconnected from the Internet right then. So, a federal judge approved a plan to have the ISC deploy and oversee substitute DNS servers.
Those substitute servers were originally supposed to be in place for 120 days, until March, but U.S District Judge Denis Cote ordered the deadline extended to give people more time to get rid of the malware.
Those servers will now come down Monday, unless the court grants yet another extension. And Internet Identity (IID) says that of last week there were still 300,000 or more systems infected. IID said 12 percent of all Fortune 500 companies and 4 percent of "major" U.S. federal agencies are still infected.
But security experts oppose another extension. Asked if the deadline should be extended again, Chester Wisniewski, senior security advisor with Sophos gave an emphatic "No."
"The deadline should not have been extended the first time in my opinion," Wisniewski said. "If the victims are infected by DNSChanger, they likely have other malware installed as well. If they can no longer get to the Internet, they will seek out assistance and get the help they need."
Brian Krebs, author of the blog Krebs on Security, agrees. In a post last week, he noted, "DNSChanger may no longer be hijacking search results, but the malware still carries secondary threats and risks."