Estonian hackers have infected millions of PCs across the U.S. with "malware," which could lead the FBI to take the drastic and unprecedented measure of cutting off some people's Internet access on March 8. Fortunately, there's still time to see if you're affected and take action before that deadline.
The malware (which stands for "malicious software") in question is called DNSChanger Trojan. As the name suggests, it is a program that hijacks your so-called domain name system server -- the technology that lets computers find Web addresses -- manipulating search results and controlling the sites your computer visits. It also blocks anti-virus software and Microsoft Updates.
How serious is the problem? According to tech blogger Brian Krebs, a security services firm called Internet Identity has found that half of all Fortune 500 firms and 27 out of 55 U.S. government agencies are infected with DNSChanger.
A federal taskforce has until March 8 to fire up surrogate DNS servers that bypass the trojan, a software program that looks legitimate but that can wreak havoc when activated. After that, affected computers might have to be taken offline, unless users obtain a court order to extend the date. If you have a computer infected by DNSChanger on March 8, you might find yourself booted off the Web.
Thankfully, it's easy to find out if you have the bug. Visit dns-ok-us to run a quick check to see if your computer is infected. Also go to the DNSChanger Working Group's website for more detailed testing information and for instructions on how to rid your network of the trojan.