Hundreds of thousands of computer users may lose their Internet connection this July and there will be little they can do to recover if they don't do some preventative cleanup sooner than later. The FBI, which set up system safety nets months ago to prevent Internet disruptions for infected users, now say they're going to shut down the system.
Most victims probably don't know their computers have been infected, although malicious spyware may have slowed their Web surfing and disabled their antivirus software.
It's believed that hackers broke into a network of more than 570,000 computers worldwide, taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows operating system. The hackers introduced malicious spyware, which turns off antivirus updates and screws up the logic that computers use to reconcile website addresses.
When the FBI caught the hackers, the agency replaced rogue servers with clean ones. Installing and running the substitute servers has cost the federal government about $87,000. The agency is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, dcw.org, that will inform them whether they're infected and explain how to fix the problem. But after July 9, infected users may not be able to connect to the Internet.