DNSChanger is not the end of the world

Woody Leonhard

DNSChanger virus spells ‘Internet Doomsday’ … The end is nigh, according to the FBI … ‘Internet doomsday’ will strike us all on July 9 …

That’s what a couple of popular websites had to say about the DNSChanger virus. What a crock!

I’ve been writing about viruses for about two decades, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen headlines that ridiculous from sources that should know better.

DNSChanger is a real piece of malware — it’s a variant of the TDSS/Alureon family of Trojans — and it was a real problem until taken down Nov. 8, 2011, in a joint FBI–Estonian police action code-named “Operation Ghost Click” (FBI site).

Since then, it seems, DNSChanger has hit headline after headline — with dire warnings. Even local TV news programs have covered it in breathless terms, as if it were the worst thing to ever infect your computer.

Lemme tell ya. It’s easy to write scary headlines such as “New Mac Trojan makes your clicking finger fall off!” (no doubt because Mac mice have only one button) or “Log on to Windows and lose your life savings!” It’s not so easy to examine the threat, digest it, translate it into terms we can all understand, and make a few simple recommendations.

That’s the goal for this column. Is it true that, as a Huffington Post U.K. headline put it, “The end is nigh, according to the FBI!”? I don’t think so.

Exactly what does DNSChanger do?

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2012-05-03:

Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.