Security Experts:

Google to Notify Users of DNSChanger Infections

Building on their previous initiative to warn users who display symptoms of infections, Google said on Tuesday that they would start notifying users who are impacted by DNSChanger malware.

Google’s efforts mirror those of various ISPs since the FBI and Estonian law enforcement officials arrested those connected to the DNSChanger malware in 2011. Only in this case, Google hopes to have more success. When a system performs a search on Google, should it display the common points of infection associated with DNSChanger, Google will issue a warning.

“At the current disinfection rate hundreds of thousands of devices will still be infected when the court order expires on July 9th and the replacement DNS servers are shut down. At that time, any remaining infected machines may experience slowdowns or completely lose Internet access,” Google said in a blog post. (For a detailed background and analysis see the column, “The Day The Internet Will Break for Millions”.)

“Our goal with this notification is to raise awareness of DNSChanger among affected users. We believe directly messaging affected users on a trusted site and in their preferred language will produce the best possible results. While we expect to notify over 500,000 users within a week, we realize we won’t reach every affected user.”

While Google freely admits that their solution won’t completely solve the problem, they are hopeful that it will ultimately lower the number of DNSChanger victims who are at risk of losing access to the Web later this summer.

“We also can’t guarantee that our recommendations will always clean infected devices completely, so some users may need to seek additional help. These conditions aside, if more devices are cleaned and steps are taken to better secure the machines against further abuse, the notification effort will be well worth it,” the search giant said.

In February 2012, it was reported that approximately half of all Fortune 500 companies and what were considered “major” U.S. federal agencies are infected with DNSChanger malware. That number has since come down significantly, but many organizations are still at risk.

To see if DNSChanger is on your network, you can take advantage of free information from one of several organizations contributing to the effort to clean up infected machines before time runs out. An up-to-date list of organizations you can contact to get this information can be found at the DNS Changer Working Group website.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.