According to the AP, in July the FBI will stop protecting people from a malevolent computer virus *UPDATED*

I don’t quite know what to make of this story about the FBI’s decision to stop protecting people from a computer virus.  It doesn’t come through as an email rumor; it comes through as an actual AP article.  Although AP is always suspect in my mind when it comes to politically charged issues, I have to assume that, as to this story, it has credibility:

For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.

Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.

The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, www.dcwg.org, that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

You can read the rest of the story here.

UPDATE:  Indigo Red’s comment is very informative:

It’s not all that ominous. A group of criminal geeks hacked servers in Estonia causing users queries to end up at sites that paid advertisers and routed the pay-per-clicks to themselves. The geeks got $14 million from the scam. They were busted and the servers were going to be confiscated, but that would have left thousands of valid customers without Internet service. The FBI called in a legit computer geek who subbed clean servers for the dirty and the FBI has been running the replacements for 8 months costing US taxpayers $87,000 – US had highest number of victims at about 85K. The substitute servers are to shutdown in July so anyone who thinks their computer may be infected has a final opportunity to scan their machines and fix the problem. I am doing so as I write this using Microsoft Safety Scanner because a few months back I saw unusual activity from Estonia, Russia, and Ukraine. I cleared the problem then, but I just want to be sure.

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Comments

  1. SADIE says

    I know exactly what to make of it – an attempt to grab as many IP addresses as possible by instilling fear. File this under: Y2K scare. Such chutzpah and fear mongering is simply beyond the pale. Last year alone, the Senate, FBI, NASA, Homeland Security and the Pentagon were hacked and that’s the short list.

  2. Jose says

    This looks plausible to me – both the hacking and the FBI solution.  The website that shows how to determine if a PC is infected has instructions that are non-intrusive and let the user compare his computer settings with the known problem settings, using a common DOS command. 
     
    I’d say that anyone who has anti-virus software is safe and probably doesn’t to worry about this. 

  3. says

    It’s not all that ominous. A group of criminal geeks hacked servers in Estonia causing users queries to end up at sites that paid advertisers and routed the pay-per-clicks to themselves. The geeks got $14 million from the scam. They were busted and the servers were going to be confiscated, but that would have left thousands of valid customers without Internet service. The FBI called in a legit computer geek who subbed clean servers for the dirty and the FBI has been running the replacements for 8 months costing US taxpayers $87,000 – US had highest number of victims at about 85K. The substitute servers are to shutdown in July so anyone who thinks their computer may be infected has a final opportunity to scan their machines and fix the problem. I am doing so as I write this using Microsoft Safety Scanner because a few months back I saw unusual activity from Estonia, Russia, and Ukraine. I cleared the problem then, but I just want to be sure.

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