Google warns users infected with DNSChanger as Web outage nears

Infected PCs and Macs trigger unusual warning on Google's search site

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Most of those computers will lose their Internet connection in seven weeks unless DNSChanger is scrubbed from their hard drives.

Google knows which computers are infected with DNSChanger because it instructs the servers now maintained by the ISC to point affected users to a unique IP address when they do a search. Because only computers plagued with the malware are being served DNS (domain name system) requests by the ISC, only infected PCs and Macs display the message.

That message -- "Your computer appears to be infected" -- also includes a link to a page on Google's own Help site, where users will find more information about the threat and download links to several free tools that will remove it.

Other options for users include the DNSChanger Working Group -- an ad hoc team of security professionals and companies -- or the FBI: Both offer instructions on how to detect and delete the malware.

Google first used the messaging tactic in July 2011 when it warned customers whose systems were infected with fake antivirus software, often dubbed "scareware. In that instance, Google became suspicious when it uncovered "unusual search traffic" while doing maintenance at one of its data centers.

At the time, some experts questioned the tactic, pointing out that security warnings have been a hacker ploy for ages.

Storms sympathized with Google's spot.

"It's like they're damned if they do, damned if they don't," he said. "Sure a message like this could be falsified, but frankly, that could happen just about anywhere."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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