No ‘Internet Armageddon’ after FBI servers go offline

Internet users are breathing a sigh of relief from a malware attack that struck late last year.

Internet users are breathing a sigh of relief from a malware attack that struck late last year.

In November 2011, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered a malware attack called DNS Changer that affected close to 600,000 people worldwide.

In addition to arresting the perpetrators, the FBI transferred affected users to two new privately operated servers. The agency also directed the targeted people to a website explaining how to remove the malware.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. EDT on July 9, the FBI switched all those affected back to the original servers. Despite fears that many would be without internet access, in the end most of the 200,000 or so computers still infected did not lose online access, according to The Associated Press.

“The notion that somehow there was going to be an Internet Armageddon today was always overdone,” Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, said to The Wall Street Journal. “It was a pretty small number of machines that hadn’t been taken care of by their owners that were going to be shut off. They were unlikely to be central to any institution’s functioning.”

Part of the issue the FBI faced in the fix was in education, as many of those affected know little about how to block applications to avoid malware like this. Additionally, some internet users feared the FBI’s efforts were for spying.

Even though this threat is now over, some experts say this could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what to expect going forward.

“We should treat this as a bit of an exhibition game,” Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, said to the WSJ. “We had time in this case. Steps were taken, which we won’t necessarily have in a no-notice kind of attack in the future.”

Were you affected by this situation? What are your layered security techniques for preventing malware attacks?

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.