Virus Could Shut Down Web Monday - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Virus Could Shut Down Web Monday

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ALEXANDRIA, La. -- Imagine logging onto the Internet on Monday...only to discover that you don't have it anymore. That's what could happen to 600,000 people come Monday morning.

The FBI will shut down an online server that, until now, kept hundreds of thousands of people who were surfing the web with a virus on their computer - online. So, how do you know if your Internet will work on Monday? 

News Channel Five's Brooke Buford has the story.

"It would be very disruptive," said Hazem Nasser, a business consultant.

"If it was out for an entire day, I wouldn't be able to get any work done," said Jerome Andries, a local law student.

Hazem Nasser and Jerome Andries can't imagine a day without the Internet.

"I rely on my computer every day, including weekends," said Nasser. "I probably use my computer at least 8-10 hours a day."

But on Monday, they could be one of the hundreds of thousands of people to get cut off.

In 2008, the FBI says hackers stole personal data information from users around the country.

"It's actually what they call 'click hijacking.' You would do a Google search for results, say iTunes," said Greg Vest, with Kinetix. "Normally, you would see the iTunes store come up first. When you click on it, instead of taking you to the official Apple iTunes web site, it would take you to something like itunesdownload-store-download.com or something like that which was not the legitimate web site."

The FBI says the simple scam, known as malware, infected about 600,000 users without their knowledge. When the FBI finally caught up with the hackers last year, they arrested them and set up an online server to allow infected users to keep surfing the web. But now, they say, they must shut that server off. And that means when they do just that on Monday, hundreds of thousands of unaware Internet users, will try to log on...and be logged off.

"The FBI has had scheduled for several months now a shutdown of these servers that they've been running to allow the infected PCs access to the Internet," said Vest. "When they shut down the servers, anyone who is infected with the malware will no longer be able to access the Internet basically."

So what can you do to stay online? The first step is to see if you're infected by logging onto a site that was set up by the FBI. It will check your computer and give you the answer.

Experts say another tip to prevent a cut-off is to install antivirus software.

"It really shouldn't effect anyone who has a system with current antivirus," said Vest. "If you have expired antivirus or no antivirus on your PC our recommendation would be to go out and get something like Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free but does download updates regularly from Microsoft. And that should find and clear up the malware and restore your access to the Internet."

Hazem and Jerome say they don't think they'll get hit...but just to be safe, they both say, they'll log on to the FBI's link to make sure they'll be able to log on to the web, come Monday.

FBI Web Site: https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS

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