In 10 days, there's a chance you will not be able to access the Internet on your personal computer. No email, no Facebook, no Google, no Twitter — nothing.
This potentially dire situation is due to the nasty DNSChanger Trojan, and the fateful date of July 9, on which the FBI is set to take all computers still infected with the malware offline for good.
Launched by Estonian cybercriminals, the DNSChanger malware infected Windows PCs, Macs and routers across the world and enabled the crooks to hijack victims' Web traffic and reroute it to rigged sites. After the FBI, in " Operation Ghost Click," busted the criminals last November, the FBI set up surrogate servers to keep the computers infected with the Trojan temporarily online so users could clean them. But on July 9, those surrogate servers are coming down.
This is bad news for anyone whose computer is still harboring the malware. According to a new report from Internet Identity,that unfortunate group, which at the time of the FBI sting was made up of 4 million computers and routers worldwide,still includes 12 percent of the Fortune 500.
In his Krebs on Security blog, researcher Brian Krebs cites a statistic from the DNSChanger Working Group, which estimates that more than 300,000 computers are still infected with the malware.
"That number is likely conservative," Krebs said. "The DCWG measures infections by Internet protocol (IP) addresses, not unique systems. Because many systems that are on the same local network often share the same IP address, the actual number of DNSChanger-infected machines is probably quite a bit higher than 300,000.
In the past few weeks, both Google and Facebook have undertaken notification campaigns efforts to warn those who may still be infected with the Trojan. But if you didn't receive a warning, it doesn't mean you're in the clear.
There are ways to eradicate the DNSChanger from your system before July 9. Here's how, in three easy steps.
First, you'll need to change some settings on your computer. Click here for instructions on how to do so. That will make sure you're still able to get on the Internet when July 9 rolls around.
Step two is to run strong anti-virus software that will clean up your computer. You'll probably have to pay for the software. Here's a list of recommended anti-virus software products.
The third step is to check your system again; if you're still seeing the Google alert, check the DNS Changer Check-Up.
If you know your car might explode and crumble into a burning mass of parts in less than two weeks unless you got it serviced, you'd probably get it serviced, right? Do the same with your computer.