Freedom and convenience are good things. So are caution and responsibility, especially with online interactions. Two weeks ago, we reached the annual deadline for income tax filing. According to the US Internal Revenue Service, there were 94,231,000 people who used e-filing to send their tax returns electronically, this year. There’s quite a bit of sensitive data on those forms. Is your computer protected? Computer and Internet security software is routinely recommended but few purchase or maintain existing security programs.
We often discuss the importance of Internet Security and the possibility of predators maliciously releasing viruses and other things to corrupt computers. That’s why most computers include trial editions of Internet Security software. What many people forget is many of these software packages require regular renewals, usually every year.
Over the past two years, predator programmers resulting in possible identity thefts, especially from credit card numbers, have infiltrated websites of all types. The FBI may initiate a shutdown of the Internet on July 9 2012 to clean up possible malware, as part of an ongoing trial.
In November 2011, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently extradited a hacker from Europe and added him to a group of defendants due for trial regarding the release of viruses and malware that may effect tens of thousands computers.
The malware secretly altered the settings on infected computers to digitally hijack Internet searches and re-route computers to certain websites and advertisements.
To carry out the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators used what are known as “rogue” Domain Name System (DNS) servers and malware (“the Malware”) that was designed to alter the DNS server settings on infected computers. Victims’ computers became infected with the Malware when they visited certain websites or downloaded certain software to view videos online. The Malware altered the DNS server settings on victims’ computers to route the infected computers to rogue DNS servers controlled and operated by the defendants and their co-conspirators. The re-routing took two forms that are described in detail below: “click hijacking” and “advertising replacement fraud.” The Malware also prevented the infected computers from receiving anti-virus software updates or operating system updates that otherwise might have detected the Malware and stopped it. In addition, the infected computers were also left vulnerable to infections by other viruses.
The defendants operated under the company name “Rove Digital”, and distributed DNS changing viruses, variously known as TDSS, Alureon, TidServ and TDL4 viruses. Using the DNS Changer Malware and rogue DNS servers, the defendants also replaced legitimate advertisements on websites with substituted advertisements that triggered payments to the defendants.
According to the FBI, about 350,000 computers are still infected, including 85,000 in the United States. FBI announced that it had set up temporary “clean” servers to make sure the users impacted by the attack didn’t lose Web access. Those servers will be shut down on July 9, and anyone still infected will be unable to access the Internet afterward.
Many people deviate from buying Internet security software discs from leading manufacturers, such as Symantec, McAffee, and Kaspersky. Instead, they download free security software. The suggestion is that you should know who and what you’re downloading. You may just be receiving malware that you didn’t expect.
For all the good things that Internet access offers, the current FBI trial is an example of the malice that lies where spiders line the web. Many remain out there. Secure your computer today with a dependable software package.