By Leo Notenboom
I have read on the internet that hundreds of thousands of computers might lose internet access after July 09, 2012. Is this true? They have estimated that more than 20,000 of such computers are right here in my country. If this is true, how serious is the threat?
Will you lose internet access?
I have no idea.
But many people whose computers have been compromised by malware just might. If you happen to be one of those people, then yes – there’s a good chance you could wake up on July 9 to no internet.
I’ll explain what happened, what’s happening in July, what you need to do to find out if you’re affected, and what to do if you are.
In a word, malware.
Last year, malware appeared that infected over half a million computers worldwide. To understand exactly what this malware did, we need to review briefly one aspect of how the internet works.
DNS, or the Domain Name System, is the system used to translate domain names – like “ask-leo.com” – into IP addresses – like 126.96.36.199 (ask-leo.com’s IP address as I write this). It’s the IP address that locates the actual physical server that houses the website.
“… the internet will stop working only if your machine is infected.”
To perform that mapping, computers are programmed with the IP addresses of DNS servers – servers which basically answer questions like, “What’s the IP address for ask-leo.com?” The IP addresses of DNS servers are automatically provided by your ISP when you connect to the internet, by your router, or you can configure the DNS server settings in your PC manually.
When this so-called “DNS Changer” malware infected a computer, it altered the DNS server that a computer would use. Rather than a legitimate DNS server, PCs were silently reconfigured to use a bogus DNS server.
A DNS server that would sometimes lie.
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This post is excerpted with Leo’s permission from his blog.
About Leo Notenboom
Leo A. Notenboom is the owner of Puget Sound Software, LLC and the Leo in Ask Leo!. Leo has been in the personal computer and software industry since 1979, as a software engineer, a manager of software engineers, and as a consultant. In 1983 Leo joined what was then a medium sized local company called Microsoft and spent the next 18 years in a wide variety of groups working on a wide variety of software. If you're running Microsoft Windows, if you've used a Microsoft development tool or Microsoft Money, or if you've ever purchased a ticket through Expedia, there's a good chance you've been touched by some of his work. And of course, since 2003, Leo has been answering your tech questions on Ask Leo!