According to the Associated Press, the problem began when international hackers ran a malicious online advertising scam to control infected computers around the world. In response, the Federal Bureau of Investigation set up a safety net to prevent infected computers from losing the Internet. However, the internet blackout is now being enforced by the FBI, who will be shutting down the safety net on July 9.
The FBI has encouraged everyone to visit http://www.dcwg.org, a site run by its security partner, to check whether their computer is infected and how to fix the problem.
Most people are not aware their computers have been infected. The government estimates that as many as 570,000 people were affected. According to the AP, the FBI had been working since last November to take down a ring of hackers who were infecting computers with this software.
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“We started to realize that we might have a little bit of a problem on our hands because … if we just pulled the plug on their criminal infrastructure and threw everybody in jail, the victims of this were going to be without Internet service,” Tom Grasso, an FBI supervisory special agent, told the AP. “The average user would open up Internet Explorer and get ‘page not found’ and think the Internet is broken.”
The deadline to keep the safety net running that prevents infected computers from losing the internet is drawing near, and the FBI has signaled that it is now up to PC users to check their own computers.
Internet Armageddon is set for July 9; any computers still infected after this date will not be able to access the Internet.