USAToday.com this morning warned that more than a quarter of a million PC users could find themselves cut off from the Internet on Monday unless they've done/do a quick check of their computers for malware that could have taken over their machines more than a year ago -- warnings that have been splashed across Facebook and Google, with internet service providers sending out notices, and the FBI setting up a special website.
"The problem began last year," USAToday explained, "when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world. When the FBI went in to take down the hackers late last year, agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their Internet service. In a highly unusual move, the FBI set up a safety net, bringing in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people wouldn’t suddenly lose their connections.
According to the FBI, as many as 277,000 computers could be infected worldwide -- down from about 360,000 in April -- with as many as 64,000 still-infected computers in the United States. Most victims don't even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their online surfing and/or disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.
While it was the first time they'd done something like this, FBI officials acknowledged that it may not be the last, since authorities are taking on more of these types of investigations -- the temporary Internet system set up, though, will be shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT) Monday, July 9... and people whose computers are still infected will lose their internet connection, having to contact their service providers for help deleting the malware and reconnecting to the Internet.
The USAToday article also contains a link via which a computer can be checked to see whether it is infected, with users being able to visit a website ran by the group brought in by the FBI @ http://www.dcwg.org The site also includes links to respected commercial sites that will run a quick check on the computer, and lays out detailed instructions if users want to actually check the computer themselves.
CRN and CNN also have articles.