The FBI estimates that as many as 275,000 PCs are still at risk of losing access to the Web on Monday when it pulls the plug on the DNS servers it has maintained to redirect PCs compromised with the DNSChanger malware to legitimate websites. Seriously? How much warning do people need?
Imagine you’re driving down a highway, and you see a sign on the side of the road that announced the road is closed in 10 miles, and directs you to exit onto an alternate route. Then, that same sign pops up at nine miles, eight miles, seven, six, and five miles. Then, for those who still don’t get it the sign appears every hundred yards for the remaining five miles. It’s hard to muster any sympathy for the vehicles that ignore all the signs and end up crashing when they get to the end of the road.
For starters, this is not a new threat. The DNSChanger malware itself dates back to 2007. It has been eight months since the FBI rounded up the cybercriminals behind the malware, and redirected traffic from compromised machines using surrogate DNS servers. It’s been more than two months since the FBI–and virtually every media outlet in the world–stepped up the campaign to warn people that the DNSChanger servers will be shut down on July 9.
It take literally five seconds to find out if your PC is infected with DNSChanger. You can visit McAfee’s online tool, click a button, and voila! You’ll instantly know if your PC is clean or not. Or, try the BrowserCheck tool from Qualys, or check out the DNSChanger Check-up site.
If you wake up on Monday and your PC is unable to connect to the Web, you should immediately know why. Then, you should kick yourself for not listening to the umpteen billion warnings, or taking the 30 seconds to use any of the myriad tools available to check if your PC has the DNSChanger malware and fix that situation.
The bottom line is, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself. Frankly, if your PC is still running known malware and you can’t be trusted to heed months of warnings to get your infected PC cleaned up, I’m not sure the rest of us really want you sharing the Web with us anyway.
I do have an idea for one final attempt to help these hundreds of thousands of seemingly oblivious users. Rather than just pulling the plug, the FBI should set the DNSChanger DNS servers to redirect all Web traffic to a landing page. The landing page should explain what DNS Changer is, and why they find themselves on the landing page, and it should have links to download the various tools to fix the problem and get back online. Just a thought.