Google to notify 500,000 DNSChanger victims today

Infected home routers means all mobile devices at risk too

Half a million people may receive a warning from Google today that their computer or router is showing signs of infection by the infamous DNSChanger malware.

Google will attempt to succeed where a variety of organisations have failed by employing users’ local language to convey the message that from July 9, “you might not be able to connect to the internet in the future” because of the infection.

The Australian Media and Communications Authority this March warned via a press statement that around 10,000 potential Australian victims that their PCs could be affected by the July 9.

Its not clear how effective the ACMA’s campaign was but it was the first authority in the world to announce the impending cut off date.

The number of victims observed per day since November 2011 has hovered around the 500,000 mark, but hundreds of thousands remain infected despite global efforts to warn consumers they may be experience difficulties connecting to the web come July 9.

The risk for users, besides the malware itself, stems from the expiration of an order giving control over ‘rogue’ DNS servers to the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC).

The consortium was granted temporary control over the rogue servers following the FBI’s November 2011 arrest of six Estonian nationals suspected to be behind the DNSChanger malware and the Estihost botnet. The servers were based in the US.

Paul Vixie, ISC’s chairman and chief scientist at last week’s AusCERT conference said that around 300,000 computers are expected to still be infected by the July 9 cut off.

The malware was behind a massive click fraud and fake antivirus scheme and was estimated at its height to have infected between 4 million and 8 million PCs worldwide, including some Macs.

The malware manipulates the computer’s domain name service settings, which are used to translate a domain name to the correct corresponding IP address.

Google security engineer, Damian Menscher pointed out that home routers may be affected as well, “meaning other computers and mobile devices may also be affected.”

“[V]arious ISPs and other groups have attempted to alert victims. However, many of these campaigns have had limited success because they could not target the affected users, or did not appear in the user’s preferred language (only half the affected users speak English as their primary language),” Menscher wrote.

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