If you're reading this story, take a minute and perform a quick check to make sure your computer isn't infected with a trojan malware that could prevent you from accessing the Internet as of Monday.
The specific malicious software is known as "DNS Changer". It has infected millions of computers globally since its discovery in 2007. Visit the DNS Changer Working Group’s website by clicking here to see if your computer is infected and to find out how to remove the malware. A green background means you're OK; a red one means your computer is infected.
People whose computers are still infected Monday will be unable to go online, and they will have to call their service providers for help deleting the malware and reconnecting to the Internet.
According to the FBI, the number of computers likely infected is more than 277,000 worldwide, down from about 360,000 in April. About 64,000 still-infected computers are probably in the United States.
Most victims are unaware that their computers have been compromised, but the malware has likely slowed their Internet access and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines vulnerable to additional problems.
So how exactly did this malware manage to do so much damage?
Every time you search the Internet, you trigger the Domain Name System, which turns a domain name such as patch.com into an Internet Protocol (IP) address. That way, other computers can identify you on the network; it's basically the equivalent of a computer’s GPS for the Internet.
The malware DNS servers would change your search to give fake answers and promote fake and dangerous products, according to the DNS Changer Working Group, which monitors the malware and helps infected users.
According to Forbes, the FBI worked with Estonian police to seize the servers that contained the spamming malware, but didn’t shut them down so the infected computers could still run. The FBI, however, has decided to stop running these servers to spare costs, meaning everyone with the malware will be unable to access the Internet.