A SIMPLE CHECK OF YOUR COMPUTER WILL DETERMINE IF YOU'RE GOOD TO GO
The notice from Reliance Connects, Mesquite's Internet Service Provider, read “ACTION REQUIRED -Your Personal Information May Be At Risk!” It went on to explain to all Reliance customers that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) had informed them that a small number of Reliance customers' computers had been infected by malicious software called the Domain Name System (DNS) Changer virus. The F.B.I. also had a warning on their web site. Many computer experts acknowledged this could be the Internet's doomsday.
The problem began last November when the F.B.I. arrested six Estonian nationals after a four year investigation and accused them of making millions of dollars from an online advertising scam that involved fake DNS servers. A DNS server is a computer that links the website name that you enter into your browser, for example www.mesquitecitizen.com, to the exact location on the web of that site so that those two sites can talk to each other.
The scammers had infected about four million computers, 500,000 of which were in this country, when people clicked on bad email attachments or phony advertising links. The virus would silently change the domain names so as to divert computers to scam sites. The result is you never really know what sites you are actually dealing with.
Shutting down the rogue servers, however,
would effectively unplug the innocent victim from the Internet.
To help victims clean up their infected computers, the F.B.I. joined with computer experts to create the DNS Changer Working Group to easily determine whether or not a computer is infected.
After July 9, however, those infected computers that have not gotten rid of the virus will suddenly go dark and have to reinstall Windows and even their DSL or cable modem software.
To check if your computer is infected, go to http://dns-ok.us and the site will automatically inspect your computer. Visiting www.dcwg.org will give worried computer users information on the virus and links to free tools to get rid of any related problems.
Brenda Crosby, President of Cascade Access/Reliance Connects, said there are several ways to protect yourself from computer viruses:
--Never open unsolicited attachments in an email.
--Do not follow unsolicited links
--Maintain updated anti-virus software
--Use an Internet firewall
y far the most common way to get a virus is clicking on an email attachment but also clicking on sudden advertising pop-ups that offer to clean your infected computer, using sites with pirated music, movies or software, and downloading infected games, utilities or other programs.
“I was informed by my Internet Service Provider that my email account had been hijacked by someone in Bahrain,” said Lindsey Cavallini of Mesquite. “Over the years, I have known many people whose email addresses were used by hijackers to send out scam information and suspicious links. It is really important to pay attention to what goes on in your computer.”