x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Internet blackout warnings were overblown, security firms say

Warnings about an internet blackout once special servers set up to allow computers infected by a virus to use the web were switched off were 'overblown'.

DUBAI// Warnings about an internet blackout once special servers set up to allow computers infected by a virus to use the web were switched off were overblown, according to internet security companies.

For months the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and search engine giant Google had told web users that they faced losing access to the internet if their computer was infected by the DNSChanger malware and it was not removed before the July 9 deadline.

However, more than 24 hours after the cut off point internet security firms say they have not seen much of an impact.

“The FBI is out — and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are in,” said the F-Secure blog.

“All in all, things are working out as they probably should in a case such as this.

“The infection count continues to decrease without a major crisis in support calls.

“We’ve only received a couple from our own customers.”

It was a view backed up by Barry Greene, a security consultant who works with the DNS Changer Working Group, a group of technology companies and experts that was helping to eradicate the virus and educate the public.

“All quiet,” he reported to Reuters.

“The outreach campaign has reached everyone humanly possible,” he added.

Luis Corrons Granel, technical director with the research lab of anti-virus software maker Panda Security, told Reuters that there had not been a big impact.

DNSChanger was discovered in 2007 and since then had gone on to infect hundreds of thousands of computers around the world.  
The Domain Name System (DNS) turns web address names into numbers allowing computers to send traffic to the right place.

The malware alters DNS settings, resulting in users being sent to malicious servers that redirect people to harmful sites.

The virus also changes settings on home routers that, in turn, can infect other computers and mobile devices.

In November the FBI and Estonian police arrested a group of people in connection with DNSChanger.

The FBI used a court order to set up temporary servers to allow infected computers to continue using the internet and be repaired.

The court order ended on July 9.

nhanif@thenational.ae