"Hundreds of Thousands" May Lose Internet in July

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"Hundreds of Thousands" May Lose Internet in July

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The FBI has bad news for the victims of an online advertising scam.

Back in November, the FBI dropped the hammer on a group of international hackers who were running an online advertising scam that allowed them to infect and take control of an estimated 568,000 computers around the world. Exploiting weaknesses in Windows, they were able to redirect infected computers to their own "rogue DNS servers," effectively leading them into a fake internet. The hackers earned an estimated $14 million through the scam, but the more long-term problem is that the victims were also made reliant on the rogue servers for web functionality.

Recognizing the potential for trouble, the FBI called in the Internet Systems Consortium, which set up two clean servers to take the place of the impounded rogue servers. "If we just pulled the plug on their criminal infrastructure and threw everybody in jail, the victims of this were going to be without Internet service," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Tom Grasso told Fox News. "The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get 'page not found' and think the internet is broken."

The servers were initially supposed to be taken offline in March but a federal judge decided that wasn't enough time and ordered that they be kept running until July. Now July is coming and, human nature being what it is, the majority of the infected systems still haven't been cleaned up.

"The full court press is on to get people to address this problem," Grasso added.

Roughly 360,000 systems are still corrupted, according to FBI estimates, including about 85,000 in the U.S. and more than 20,000 each in Italy, England, Germany and India. And while the FBI's tactic in this case is "unusual," the agency said it took the steps it did to avoid the appearance of government intrusion into private systems.

FBI Cyber Division Unit Chief Eric Strom described this sort of thing as "the future of what we will be doing," explaining that as it approaches the end of cases, it will have to start thinking about how to accomplish its goals without making an even bigger mess of things. And in the spirit of not making things worse, the agency is encouraging users to check out the DNS Changer Working Group website, which can detect and clean infected systems, at dcwg.org.

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I'm curious as to why this would be a huge problem. The first thing someone lacking networking knowledge does when the internet goes out is call tech support. It'll be hell in the call centers of the major ISPs for a few weeks, but since there's an existing solution, the rush should die down quickly.

I haven't followed this very closely though, so I might be missing a few details on the situation.

Internet illiterate people have my pity. It is like sheep being released into the middle of a pack of hungry wolves.

We already had a thread on this three days ago.
Escapist: the FEMA of internet news staffs.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Internet illiterate people have my pity. It is like sheep being released into the middle of a pack of hungry wolves.

Really they're probably better off without it. It's their kids who actually know how to use a computer that I feel sorry for.

Solution: Make a virus whose sole purpose is to clean up this mess. Infect everyone who connects through these servers, and after it does its work they'll never connect again. Problem solved.

P.S. Thanks

Covarr:
Solution: Make a virus whose sole purpose is to clean up this mess. Infect everyone who connects through these servers, and after it does its work they'll never connect again. Problem solved.

P.S. Thanks

Lol, I'd love to see the Escapists reaction to that...

"Government creates computer virus to help fix your personal computer's problems for your own good!"

At first I was like *gasp!!* then I saw "will open internet explorer" and lulz'd like ted bundy at a dead baby joke.

Andy Chalk:

Roughly 360,000 systems are still corrupted, according to FBI estimates, including about 85,000 in the U.S. and more than 20,000 each in Italy, England, Germany and India. And while the FBI's tactic in this case is "unusual," the agency said it took the steps it did to avoid the appearance of government intrusion into private systems.

Well at least that means us remaining 11 million people in the UK are safe right? :D

midnightdown:
I'm curious as to why this would be a huge problem. The first thing someone lacking networking knowledge does when the internet goes out is call tech support. It'll be hell in the call centers of the major ISPs for a few weeks, but since there's an existing solution, the rush should die down quickly.

I haven't followed this very closely though, so I might be missing a few details on the situation.

I suspect the 360,000 people trying to get tech support in the same couple of days might be the flaw ;)

DVS BSTrD:
We already had a thread on this three days ago.
Escapist: the FEMA of internet news staffs.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Internet illiterate people have my pity. It is like sheep being released into the middle of a pack of hungry wolves.

Really they're probably better off without it. It's their kids who actually know how to use a computer that I feel sorry for.

Umm, there isn't any exclusive news on this site. It's an expanded blog, pretty much. All articles carry source links to other websites.

DVS BSTrD:
We already had a thread on this three days ago.
Escapist: the FEMA of internet news staffs.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Internet illiterate people have my pity. It is like sheep being released into the middle of a pack of hungry wolves.

Really they're probably better off without it. It's their kids who actually know how to use a computer that I feel sorry for.

I've always found it weird how escapist news staff never read their own forums. Most big news is on the forums way before a newspiece comes out and yet no one on the forums is ever credited, to which, I can only assume means they never bother reading the forums.

"The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get 'page not found' and think the internet is broken."

I would like to think the average user has transcended Internet Explorer at this point. Please don't insult us... Even if it's true...

Hahaha, heard about this the other day; a very fun scheme, I have always had a soft spot for DNS based schemes. Those crazy russians do something twice a year to positively surprise me, all web scam related :D

All jokes aside, yall should at least check out the link and scan your computer anyway, it's not as if it takes more than 1 second to actually do it.

Is there a link to the FBI site stating this? So far it reads like a scare tactic to get people to infect their computer by running the "cleaner" software.

DVS BSTrD:
We already had a thread on this three days ago.
Escapist: the FEMA of internet news staffs.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Internet illiterate people have my pity. It is like sheep being released into the middle of a pack of hungry wolves.

Really they're probably better off without it. It's their kids who actually know how to use a computer that I feel sorry for.

If you see a good story on the forums and notice that we haven't covered it yet, you're certainly encouraged to send a news tip to newseditor@escapistmag.com. The many, many people of the forums, who are scanning the internet on a near constant basis, are naturally going to find many stories before our news team does. Passing on news tips would be a very helpful thing to do. Making snarky comments, less helpful.

So...The FBI have servers that can redirect users to other websites. Why don't they create a page specifically for those infected and redirect them to there on what to do?

Oh, windows again... But yeah, go FBI I guess.

They can basically inject any content they want, so they should just show a page explaining how to fix the problem instead of running normal DNS services.

Of course people wont fix it if they don't know something is wrong.

I'm clean apparently. I guess those of us who who download three things a year and visit roughly 5 sites do pretty good :P

Susan Arendt:

DVS BSTrD:
We already had a thread on this three days ago.
Escapist: the FEMA of internet news staffs.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Internet illiterate people have my pity. It is like sheep being released into the middle of a pack of hungry wolves.

Really they're probably better off without it. It's their kids who actually know how to use a computer that I feel sorry for.

If you see a good story on the forums and notice that we haven't covered it yet, you're certainly encouraged to send a news tip to newseditor@escapistmag.com. The many, many people of the forums, who are scanning the internet on a near constant basis, are naturally going to find many stories before our news team does. Passing on news tips would be a very helpful thing to do. Making snarky comments, less helpful.

Sorry Susan, I had just got off an argument with another member and was feeling a little grouchy.

Eri:

DVS BSTrD:
We already had a thread on this three days ago.
Escapist: the FEMA of internet news staffs.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Internet illiterate people have my pity. It is like sheep being released into the middle of a pack of hungry wolves.

Really they're probably better off without it. It's their kids who actually know how to use a computer that I feel sorry for.

I've always found it weird how escapist news staff never read their own forums. Most big news is on the forums way before a newspiece comes out and yet no one on the forums is ever credited, to which, I can only assume means they never bother reading the forums.

The staff reads and replies on the forums all the time, not just the news threads either.

Bostur:
They can basically inject any content they want, so they should just show a page explaining how to fix the problem instead of running normal DNS services.

Of course people wont fix it if they don't know something is wrong.

Indeed. This article comes off making them look like benevolent, generous watchdogs keeping an eye out for us, when really all they're doing is making it so they know everything that the people on their servers go to, are looking at, who they're talking to, etc.

It's kind of upsetting that they're not even (from what I can tell) going to tell the people who are infected that this is going to happen to them specifically.

"The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get 'page not found' and think the internet is broken."

Pissed myself here - bear in mind who he's speaking to.

DVS BSTrD:

Susan Arendt:

DVS BSTrD:
We already had a thread on this three days ago.
Escapist: the FEMA of internet news staffs. Really they're probably better off without it. It's their kids who actually know how to use a computer that I feel sorry for.

If you see a good story on the forums and notice that we haven't covered it yet, you're certainly encouraged to send a news tip to newseditor@escapistmag.com. The many, many people of the forums, who are scanning the internet on a near constant basis, are naturally going to find many stories before our news team does. Passing on news tips would be a very helpful thing to do. Making snarky comments, less helpful.

Sorry Susan, I had just got off an argument with another member and was feeling a little grouchy.

I respect anyone who owns their actions. Apology accepted. :)

Awexsome:
Lol, I'd love to see the Escapists reaction to that...

"Government creates computer virus to help fix your personal computer's problems for your own good!"

They'll take that opportunity to then infect the computer with "Anti Piracy" Spyware
Does this affect other countries?

Baneat:

"The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get 'page not found' and think the internet is broken."

Pissed myself here - bear in mind who he's speaking to.

is it bad that I laughed at the Internet explorer bit?

...

I really hope people aren't reading this article and getting any ideas.

"if we just pulled the plug a lot of people would loose service" they make it sound like they kept it running out of the goodness of the heart. More likely it was a great chance for them to collect a lot of data on a fairly decent size of individuals. A fantastic opportunity to snoop for the FBI I bet they didn't pass it up.

Am I missing something? Are people in the comments saying that going onto the websites designated to check your computer for the server switching virus infecting your computer with its own government sanctioned virus?

Andy Chalk:
And in the spirit of not making things worse, the agency is encouraging users to check out the DNS Changer Working Group website, which can detect and clean infected systems, at dcwg.org.

Why do I have the distinct feeling that somehow that link is going to make everything worse?

I was reading until I saw this

Fox News

Now I think the Escapist is just posting this article to create drama and increased readers/ visitors to the site.

Also in other words, if your tech savy check your DNS, if your a dumb fuck call your ISP and update your anti-virus

People will not clean their systems until the thing stops working. that's the truth for 99% of internet users. Take it down faster and you will solve it faster.
Also, now i know what my antivirus was bocking in somones avatar......

Why are people laughing and acting smug because they mentioned Internet Explorer? News flash, guys: the majority of people who use personal computers, use IE. It doesn't make you better, smarter, cooler, superior or "in" to not do so.

Consider your pedestal kicked.

(No, I don't use IE.)

twistedheat15:
At first I was like *gasp!!* then I saw "will open internet explorer" and lulz'd like ted bundy at a dead baby joke.

Well, the article said "the average user", and IE is still pretty big.

DNS is system-wide, though, so the browser doesn't matter.

Can't they make the temporary DNS servers add a small frame to webpages with a link to instructions on how to fix it? Or yould you need a proxy for that?.

Bostur:
They can basically inject any content they want, so they should just show a page explaining how to fix the problem instead of running normal DNS services.

Of course people wont fix it if they don't know something is wrong.

That was exactly my thought. I fear that this might be a case of common sense being trumped by the fear that the civil liberties whackos all start bumping their gums about the FBI spying on everyone:

"And while the FBI's tactic in this case is "unusual," the agency said it took the steps it did to avoid the appearance of government intrusion into private systems."

Could you imagine the self-righteous outrage (from a small and vocal few) if these 300k+ users opened up their browsers one day and found a message from the FBI instead of their homepage? Never mind that this would be a really quick way to solve the majority of people's problems and get them back onto the real internet, instead it would be an attack on your freedom... blah blah blah.

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