1000 NZ internet users at risk at 4pm today – InternetNZ, govt agencies warn
InternetNZ has warned that about 1000 internet users in New Zealand are at risk of their internet access being disrupted next at 4pm today.
It is advising people to check their computers are not at risk before then.
While most malware alerts come from hyped-up, self-interested security software makers, InternetNZ is the organisation that administers the .co.nz domain and lobbies on behalf of internet users.
It warns 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 websites that then attempt to steal personal information and generate illegitimate advertising revenue.
NZITF (New Zealand Internet Task Force) chairman Paul McKitrick urges New Zealanders to check if they are infected by DNSChanger by visiting the website dns-ok.org.nz, which is a joint initiative between NetSafe, the New Zealand National Cyber Security Centre and the Ministry of Economic Development.
FBI's operation Ghost Click
The Estonian government, with the help of the FBI, 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 until July as there were still 450,000 active infections globally at that time.
These DNS servers will be shut down at 4am UTC (corresponding to 4pm on July 9, NZT). After that time, infected computers will not be able to use the internet.
Google and Facebook have been among several websites that have been detecting and warning people if their computers were infected. People who have 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 until the last minute as a quick check is all it takes to find out whether or not a computer is infected with the virus.