Malware threat fizzles as FBI shuts down servers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and a consortium of Internet security experts said Monday that the much-feared “DNS Changer’’ Internet crisis hasn’t materialized.

“We’re not aware of any issues,’’ said Jenny Shearer, a spokeswoman for the FBI, whose decision to shut down a set of computer servers at midnight Monday sparked fears that millions of Internet users might be knocked offline.

The affected servers were being operated by the FBI itself, in response to a massive Internet fraud ring that had attacked the Internet’s DNS or Domain Name System.

“The most activity we’ve had is press calls,’’ said Barry Greene, an independent computer security consultant with the DNS Changer Working Group. “We haven’t had the Internet fall down.’’


DNS is a network of server computers that translates Internet addresses into numerical codes that computers can understand. DNS Changer, a malicious computer program released five years ago by hackers in Estonia, changed settings on millions of infected computers, connecting them to DNS servers run by the criminals. These illicit servers delivered advertisements sold by companies controlled by the hackers.

The FBI shut down the fraud ring last year. But because so many computers had been infected, the agency continued to run the DNS servers, to give Internet users worldwide a chance to clean up their machines. At midnight on Sunday, the FBI turned off the DNS servers for good, meaning that any machines still infected would lose Internet access.

But possibly because of an aggressive information campaign by the FBI and computer security agencies worldwide, there have been no reports of widespread outages.

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