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BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU: Warning, malware

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 Hundreds of thousands of Internet uses may lose their online access on July 9 and Better Business Bureau is urging all consumers and businesses to run a quick and easy diagnostic test to see if their computers are infected. The FBI’s DNS Changer Working Group at www.dcwg.org can detect the malware and explain how to fix infected machines.

“Everyone should check to see if their computer is infected,” urged Charlie Mattingly, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Louisville, Southern Indiana, and Western Kentucky. “It takes less than a minute to check and, if your equipment is clean, there is nothing more you need to do. If your computer is infected, the DNS Changer Working Group recommends the necessary steps to save your computer. But this must be done by July 9 or you could lose Internet access.”

Last November, the FBI took down the servers of international hackers operating out of Estonia. The hackers had already successfully downloaded malware onto more than half a million computers, turning off virus updates and redirecting consumers to fraudulent websites. If the servers had simply been shut down, the victims’ computers would no longer be able to access the internet. Instead, the FBI set up clean servers to replace the ones that were running the scam, and victims have been redirected to those clean servers ever since, usually without any knowledge they’d been infected in the first place.

Originally the rescue servers were to be active until March, but a court ruling extended the program until July 9. At that time the clean servers will be turned off and anyone who is still infected with the malware will lose their Internet access. The FBI believes there are still about 360,000 infected computers in a dozen countries, including the U.S. and Canada.

Reanna Smith-Hamblin is vice president of communications for the Better Business Bureau.