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InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) today warned that about 1,000 Internet users in New Zealand were at risk of their Internet access being disrupted on Monday 9 July 2012. It is advising people to check their computers were not at risk before then.
A virus called DNSChanger has infected computers globally since 2007. The virus changes an infected computer's DNS (Domain Name System, akin to the Internet’s phone book) settings to point to rogue servers. Basically, it redirects legitimate Web surfing to malicious Web sites that then attempt to steal personal information and generate illegitimate advertising revenue.
The Estonian Government, with the help of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), launched “Operation Ghost Click” and arrested the people behind DNSChanger in November 2011. Internet Systems Consortium, under contract with the FBI, operated replacement DNS servers to give people time to clean their computers. The original deadline was March of this year but it was extended till July as there were still 450,000 active infections globally at that time.
On Monday, 9 July 2012 these DNS servers will be shut down at 4 am UTC (corresponding to 4 pm on 9 July, New Zealand time). After that time, infected computers will not be able to use the Internet.
Google and Facebook have been amongst several websites that have been detecting and warning people if their computers were infected. People who’ve been to these websites over the last month would have been warned if they were infected.
However, InternetNZ Chief Executive Vikram Kumar says people may not have noticed the warning. He is advising people not to wait till Monday, 9 July 2012 as a quick check is all it takes to find out whether or not a person’s computer is infected with the virus.
NZITF (New Zealand Internet Task Force) Chair Paul McKitrick urges New Zealanders to check if they are infected by DNSChanger, by visiting the website http://dns-ok.org.nz/, which is a joint initiative between NetSafe, the New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre, and the Ministry of Economic Development.