When the clock struck 12:01 a.m. ET today the FBI pulled the plug on the temporary Internet servers it set up to keep computers online if they were infected with a piece of malware called the DNS Changer. The pulling of the plug had the potential to leave as many as 250,000 worldwide without Internet access.
How widespread was the problem really? If you're able to see this story, that should be a very good sign.
Internet Service Providers (or ISPs), like Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable, have been working with the FBI since January, pinpointing those with infected computers and instructing them on how to remove the DNS malware. The DNS Changer, the FBI said, was created by overseas hackers who were arrested in 2011.
The FBI provided weekly lists of IP addresses to the Internet companies and, in turn, the companies informed their customers of the issue and instructions on how to remove the malware.
If you received no notification, and want to make sure your machine is not infected, you can check by clicking on this link, run by the DNS Changer Working Group, a team working on cleanup resulting from the malware.
Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable told ABC News they informed users by sending emails and old-fashioned letters, making phone calls to them, even putting pop-up messages in their browsers.
"We did another last push last week and we even sent another hard copy letter to users. As a result, less than 1/10th of 1 percent will be affected by today's change," Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesperson, told ABC News.
According to the Associated Press, as of July 4, there were about 45,600 computers infected in the U.S.; a week later, there were only 20,000.
Time Warner Cable said it has been working to make sure that even those affected wouldn't have their Internet shut off. "Time Warner Cable has set up its own DNS servers and any TWC customers infected will continue to be able to use the Internet," Time Warner's Justin Venech told ABC News. "We feel that we are providing a better customer experience if we allow any customers who are infected with this malware to stay online."
Like Comcast and other ISPs, Time Warner said it does not expect many customers to have issues today.
"We do not expect to receive many, if any, incoming customer service calls as a result of this issue," Venech said. Similarly, Comcast's spokesperson said, "We've seen extremely low call volume, but our agents are ready to help customers."
Customer service representatives at the ISPs have been trained to help those who call in with issues because of the DNS changer malware issue. Customers who call in will be walked through the fix. Many companies have also launched sites to help those who are having issues.