Come Monday somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 computers won't be able to get onto the Interwebs because of some complicated expiration of FBI protection of DNS malware. Don't let that be you. We know, a world without Internet -- especially for we Internet creatures -- would not only render us homeless, but useless. We'd rather have you all sitting pretty with your Internet intact, ready to click our stories and do whatever anyone else does on this thing all day.
Step 1: Check If You're Affected
Like we said, not too many computers have anything to worry about. So before you get all worried and bury your head into your computer's insides, check to see if this is anything at all you have to worry about. First, this only affects PC users. Apple computers have nothing to worry about. Though this issue has to do with servers and Internet and malware and other fancy computer lingo that many of us don't know much about, lucky for us, security software maker McAfee has the easiest to use checker ever here. Just click a button. If you get that congratulations sign below, that's it! Internet on. If not, continue on. The FBI, a more official place, we guess, also has a checker. But it takes a little more Internet know-how, asking users to enter an IP address.
Step 2: Understand the Problem
This potentially boring task has gotten a teensy bit more engaging with this short enough video from security firm Sophos. The first three minutes give a simple explanation of why we got here today.
For our readers who prefer words -- we know you're out there somewhere -- here's a kind of succinct explanation of what went down from Tech News World's Vivian Wagner:
This saga began when a band of criminals created DNSChanger, which modified computers' domain name system (DNS) settings so they would automatically redirect to criminally created sites; it also attempted to reset routers and other devices.
The arrests in November of six Estonian men accused of creating the malware put an end to the scheme, but because millions of computers remained infected, the FBI worked with industry representatives to set up replacement servers. The idea was to buy time to get the word out to the public about the malware.
On Monday, however, those replacement servers will stop functioning, and infected computers will not be able to access the Internet through named URLs.
In short: the FBI was protecting computers with replacement servers. On Monday, that protection will stop.
Step 3: Get it Off of Your Computer
This part is kind of painful, but necessary if you plan on reading The Atlantic Wire come Monday. Stan Stahl, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Information Systems Security Association suggests those with infected computers back up their data, reformat their hard drive and reinstall the operating system and applications, per a note obtained by the Los Angeles Times' Salvador Rodriguez. Rodriguez also suggests these unfortunate souls call their Internet providers to have the DNS changed. And to change every single one of your passwords. (Heh: Good luck with that.)
Step 4: Internet Your Heart Out
Join the rest of us out here without a care in the world. At least for now.