It potentially reduces the disruption and chaos that would ensue if so many organizations and users abruptly found themselves cut off from the Web. But companies and users need to take advantage of the extension to clean their systems, and history suggests that won't be the case. The Conficker worm is still infecting millions of machines, despite the fact that FBI has been actively trying to clean up that malware mess since 2009, Krebs on Security notes.
Another drawback to an extension is the longer the delay, the longer machines remain infected. The DNSChanger malware still poses a risk, even if it's not rerouting traffic, because the Trojan disables a machine's ability to get software updates. That means some systems infected with DNSChanger haven't gotten any critical patches in months, making them prime targets for malicious hackers.
This fact does raise the question of why so many Fortune 500 companies and government agencies have failed to notice they have a problem, as they presumably have IT security professionals on staff who should be monitoring such incidents.
Another drawback: Keeping the surrogate network humming requires tax dollars and government resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
Given the uncertainty of what the feds will decide, organizations and home users alike would be well served to tackle the problem now, whether than playing the ever-risky waiting game. Organizations can determine if they're systems are infected with DNSChanger by contacting the DNS Changer Working Group. Home users can check out the DCWG website for step-by-step instructions to determine if their systems are infected.
This story, "Security slackers risk Internet blackout on March 8," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.