Infected computers to lose connection

21:45, Jul 08 2012

As many as 650 New Zealand homes and businesses could lose access to the internet at 4pm on Monday, InternetNZ has warned.

The outage could happen when the United States FBI turns off servers that have been keeping hundreds of thousands of computers infected with an Estonian computer virus properly connected online.

The virus, DNSChanger, was released in 2007 and was designed to direct infected computers' web browsers to servers that had been compromised by hackers, allowing them to steal personal information such as online banking passwords and log-ons.

The plot was cracked in November when the hackers, who were reported to have netted US$14 million (NZ$17.5m), were arrested and the compromised servers taken over by the FBI. However, it will shut the servers down on Monday, meaning those computer users who have not yet rid themselves of the virus and restored their DNS settings will be cut off from the internet. At the end of March there were still 450,000 infected computers worldwide.

InternetNZ chief executive Vikram Kumar said US authorities had found the servers were supporting 650 New Zealand internet protocol addresses, but the actual number of infected computers could be higher. Fairfax NZ

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