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TODAY'S TOPIC: DNSChanger Deadline
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Click to read the article (If you click on this thumbnail, you can find out if your computer is infected.) Hopefully, by now you've heard about the fact that servers, set up by the FBI to bypass the effects of the "DNSChanger" computer malware, will be taken offline next Monday, July 9. This means if your computer is infected by "DNSChanger", you will lose your WWW access on July 9. The article Don't Lose Your Internet Access Monday, Cautions the FBI explains why: DNS-lookup is the means of converting a user-readable website name such as Amazon.com or iTunes.com to a computer-readable IP address.

But the malware, once it infected a computer, changed the DNS (Domain Name Service) link in that computer to point to evil DNS servers in New York, Chicago and Estonia (one of my favorite countries, but not for this reason!), and these evil DNS servers would convert many of the names of websites you wanted to visit to IP addresses of malicious websites that would sell you fake merchandise, or infect your computer with more malware, or "Trojan horse" sites that would try to steal your login and password to the real website before forwarding you to the real website. The hacker group behind "DNSChanger" had ripped people off for over $15 million before the FBI, Estonian and Dutch police took down their evil DNS-lookup servers and replaced them with clean DNS-lookup servers.

A Higgs Boson walks into a Catholic church. The priest says, "I'm sorry, we don't allow Higgs Bosons in here."
The Higgs Boson replies, "But without me you can't have mass!" (That's why it's called "the God particle.")

Then the FBI petitioned the courts to set up the DCWG (DNSChanger Working Group), a consortium of Internet companies including Google, Facebook and others, which would semi-automatically scan their site visitors' computers for "DNSChanger", and if it was detected, instruct them how to remove the malware. Enough time has elapsed by now, they figure, for people to have cleaned their infected computers, so the FBI can take their clean DNS-lookup servers offline. But this means that any slackers who haven't bothered to scan and clean their computers will have links to DNS-lookup servers that no longer exist: they won't be able to visit any websites on the WWW! (It's a bit of a misnomer to say "lose your Internet access" - yes, they will still have Internet access for programs that lookup websites by their IP address, but not to websites via their browsers.)

Of course, although this free malware detection service from DCWG explained - "For example, the http://www.dns-ok.us/ will state if you are or are not infected" provided opportunity for commercial websites to make money: McAfee quickly set up a website to check for this malware, but after the scanner runs, it invites you to download and install their "SiteAdvisor," a free program that in turn will frequently nag you to buy McAfee's anti-virus software. Sigh! - I remember when in the early 1990s the Internet was really free, not commercialized!

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On another front, the EU Parliament rejects ACTA anti-piracy treaty: The vote was 39 in favor, 478 against, with 165 abstentions. ACTA is a multilateral treaty backed by the US to combat piracy and copyright violation of commercial physical and digital products. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea - I'm against piracy and copyright violation, aren't you? But opponents found many ways in which the treaty was flawed: it bypassed existing international agencies such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. Also, it could lead to intrusive policing and "false positives." So this looks like a "win" for Internet freedom folks... for a while, at least.

The Security Blurb:
Two issues ago, I wrote about the newly-uncovered "Flame" virus that targeted and infected hundreds of computers in the Middle East, mainly in Iran. Since then, CBS Sixty Minutes had a segment on cyber-weapons: the US appears to have an advantage on such weapons used offensively, but the US is also defensively very much susceptible to attack by cyber-weapons. Here's a good article on the need for international negotiations that would ban or limit the use of cyber-weapons: Should There Be an International Treaty on Cyberwarfare? They should at least be forbidden to attack civilian infrastructure such as the electricity grid, other public utilities, and the world financial network.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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