The Federal Bureau of Investigation may soon be forced to shut down a number of key Domain Name System (DNS) servers, which would cut Internet access for millions of Web users around the world, reports BetaBeat. The DNS servers were installed by the FBI last year, in an effort to stop the spread of a piece of malware known as DNSCharger Trojan. But the court order that allowed the set up of the replacement servers expires on March 8.
In November of last year, authorities arrested six men in Estonia for the creation and spread of DNSCharger, which reconfigures infected computersâ€™ Internet settings, and re-routes users to websites that contain malware, or other illegal sites. DNSCharger also blocks access to websites that might offer solutions for how to rid the computer of its worm, and often comes bundled with other types of malicious software.
By the time the FBI stepped in, DNSCharger had taken over computers in more than 100 countries, including half-a-million computers in the US alone. To help eradicate the widespread malware, the FBI replaced infected servers with new, clean servers, which gave companies and individuals with infected computers time to clean DNSCharger off their machines.
Unfortunately, DNSCharger is still running on computers â€œat half of the Fortune 500 companies,â€ and at â€œ27 out of 55 major government entities,â€ reports cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs. These computers rely on the FBI-installed DNS servers to access the Web. But if the court order is not extended, the FBI will be legally required to remove the clean servers, which would cut off the Internet for users still infected with DNSCharger.
Companies or other agencies that are unsure whether their systems are infected with DNSCharger can get free assistance here. And private users can find out if they are infected using instructions provided here.