DNSChanger Malware: What's Next?

FBI says 64,000 U.S. Internet users are impacted by DNSChanger Malware. PCWorld talks with AT&T, Comcast and Verizon reps about what's next

The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates around 64,000 computers in the U.S. infected with the DNSChanger Trojan may have Internet connectivity problems Monday. This particularly nasty piece of malware first surfaced in 2007 and is able to reroute a PC's Web traffic without knowledge of the user. DNSChanger achieved this by manipulating the Domain Name System (DNS) routing service for infected computers.

The FBI in late 2011 along with other law enforcement agencies brought down the Estonia-based criminal ring responsible for DNSChanger. Ever since, the federal agency has been helping to facilitate normal Web traffic behavior for infected PCs.

That ends Monday, however, with the Internet Systems Consortium set to shut down the Domain Name System servers supporting machines infected with DNSChanger. As a result, affected machines will be cut off from their DNS provider. Those PCs will look like they are having problems getting onto the Web even with a normal Internet connection.

AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon Respond

So what do those approximately 64,000 U.S. computers still infected with DNSChanger do now? PCWorld spoke with representatives from AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, three of the largest Internet Service Provider's in the U.S., and it looks like some people may not have to do anything at all right away.

AT&T told PCWorld it plans to continue handling DNS rerouting for infected computers until the end of the year. "That gives adequate time for these customers to remove it from their computers and avoid service interruption," AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel told PCWorld.

Verizon said any of its infected broadband customers would be covered with DNS services until the end of July. Company spokesperson John Bonomo said Verizon would continue to contact its infected customers to help them remove DNSChanger from their computers.

Comcast's Xfinity broadband users won't have the luxury of DNS redirection if they're infected. Instead, the company plans to work with all affected users to help restore Internet connectivity and remove DNSChanger from their systems, Comcast spokesperson Charlie Douglas told PCWorld.

All three companies say the number of customers currently affected by DNSChanger support is very small.

What Is DNS?

DNS servers are basically directories for every Web site and Internet connection in the world. When you enter a URL such as CNN.com into your browser, a DNS server directs your PC to CNN's Internet Protocol address, Those machine readable numbers are what computers use to navigate the Internet. If you entered the IP above into your browser's address bar you would connect to CNN.com. That's a great trick, but obviously those large numbers are far less memorable for most people than a regular "dot com" address, thus the need for DNS rerouting.

As its name suggests, DNSChanger was able to change the DNS settings on a computer and put those PCs and how they navigate the Web under the control of the criminal gang. The FBI says the Estonia-based group used DNSChanger to replace legitimate Web advertising with their own, reaping at least $14 million in ill-gotten gains in the process.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter andGoogle+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Ian Paul

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place