“July 9th Virus” and media sensationalism

As a computer professional, the media harping over the “July 9th Virus”, or it’s actual name the DNSChanger malware has really been grinding my gears. News media loves to prey on people’s fears about anything, and this is no different.

They have been warning us for months that you will “lose access to the Internet”. I have had quite a few people ask me if this is something they need to worry about. Provided that you take proper care of your PC and run up to date virus scanners, there is nothing to worry about.

Also, let’s look at the statistics of this virus… according to this CBS news story, the FBI reports that 277,000 computers worldwide are still infected, and of that, they believe 64,000 of them are in the United States. In 2012, there are over 1 billion computers in operation all over the world. This means that 0.03% are infected. You have a much greater chance of winning Powerball than having this virus infecting your computer.

This malware was created in 2007. The premise behind the malware is that once your computer is infected, it changes the DNS settings on your computer to point them to their own servers that will serve up pop up ads and other things to try and get you to buy stuff. It’s the way most malware works these days… it deceives you into purchasing products (most of them fraudulent) and piggy backing it from other web sites to make it look like legitimate web sites.

Since these servers have been shut down by international authorities, the FBI has since set up it’s own servers that redirect requests that are passed to the servers. This will be shut off as of midnight (Eastern Daylight Time) tonight on July 9th, 2012.

The other thing that I really dislike about the media’s portrayal of this is that they say you will “lose the Internet”. They make it sound like it will be gone forever, never to return. Why bother paying your Internet bill?

All that you need to do to get the Internet back is to clean your computer of the malware.

If you are legitimately concerned that you have this virus, please visit this web site called DCWG, which is a web site set up by the security partner of the FBI to first check if you are infected. This does not involve installing any software.

If you have somehow beat all the odds and your computer is actually infected, simply follow the instructions on the web site on how to remove it.

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