DNS Changer Malware: What to Do If Your Computer's Hit

PHOTO: The FBI is shutting down temporary internet servers, leaving unsuspecting malware-infected individuals without internet.
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Planning on using the Internet Monday? You might want to join the thousands of people who are checking their computers to make sure they won't lose connection.

The FBI's temporary Internet servers will go dark Monday, leaving thousands of unsuspecting malware-infected individuals without online access.

What temporary Internet servers, you ask? They might have been connecting you to Facebook, YouTube, and -- ahem! -- ABCNews.com for the last month, and you didn't even know it. Really.

Why is this happening? It all has to do with a piece of computer malware called DNS Changer.

It started in 2007, when a group of hackers -- six Estonians and one Russian -- allegedly started masquerading as Internet advertisers who were paid by the click, according to an 2011 indictment from the U.S. Attorney General's Office in the Southern District of New York. In other words, if an ad got more clicks, they pocketed more cash.

So they figured out a way to beat the system, according to the indictment. They created a piece of malware, called DNS Changer, that tampered with the DNS -- the thing that takes a website address and finds the numerical IP address to connect you to that website -- redirecting millions of Internet users to sites they didn't search for.

For instance, if your computer was infected and you clicked a link to go to Netflix, you would wind up at "BudgetMatch," according to the FBI. The practice is called "click hijacking."

Once the FBI got around to fixing the problem in 2011, it realized it couldn't simply shut down the rogue servers because infected computers would be left without a functioning DNS, leaving them virtually Internet-less. So it set up temporary servers to give malware-infected Internet users time to fix their computers.

And time runs out on Monday, July 9.

(There isn't a planned attack this Monday that will shut down the Internet; those whose computers are already infected will lose the Band-Aid the FBI put on the problem more than a year ago.)

Who Is Affected?

Initially, there were more than 4 million infected computers in 100 countries, including 500,000 in the United States, according to the indictment.

As of July 4, there were only about 46,000 in the United States, FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer told ABCNews.com today. (That's out of nearly 300,000 worldwide.)

PCs and Apple Macs have been infected. Routers and iPads were hit, too.

As of June, the United States had more infected computers than any other country, according to data from the DNS Changer Working Group, or DCWG, a group working on cleanup resulting from the malware.

How Do I Know if My Computer Is Infected?

You can check to see whether your computer is infected by clicking on this link, which is run by DCWG.

If the page is green, you're in the clear. If it's red, your computer is infected.

On Thursday the site got 2 million hits, but very few of those computers were infected, DCWG volunteer Barry Greene told ABCNews.com.

Google and Facebook say they have also set up notifications for infected users. If you type in a search term and see a message that says, "Your computer appears to be infected" at the top of your screen, guess what. Your computer is infected.

Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are among the other organizations notifying customers if they have infected machines.

Important: According to DCWG, you should not need to scan, make changes or download anything to tell whether your computer is infected.

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