So Internet services are expected to go off today…well, that’s what the experts warned us about last week about an impending Malware that would take over PCs and other connected devices.
According to Microsoft’s safety and security centre, “Malware is short for ‘malicious software.’
Malware is any kind of unwanted software that is installed without your adequate consent. Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are examples of malicious software that are often grouped together and referred to as malware.”
Microsoft noted that “cybercriminals sometimes try to trick you into downloading rogue (fake) security software that claims to protect you against malware. This rogue security software might ask you to pay for a fake product, install malware on your computer, or steal your personal information.”
The computer shutdown news has generated so much anxiety in the West (not so in Nigeria though as our lives depend less on computers and connected devices), with the American FBI (federal bureau of investigations) have already set up a special website to mitigate a possible shutdown.
The FBI notes that more than 277,000 computers are infected globally – a scale down from April’s 360,000. The United States alone is said to house about 64,000 of these ‘infected’ PCs.
In Canada, the Internet registration authority claims some 25,000 PCs affected by the malware resides in the massive North American territory. But last week, it re-configured that figure to just 7,000 computers.
CIRA said it has harmonized strategies with the country’s public safety agency and the radio-television telecommunications commission, to develop an online site to enable citizens confirm if their systems were malware infected.
But this could also be another dimension of ongoing global cyber warfare that threatens the soul of the modern day man. Lately, the US and Israel have been linked with a number of cyber attacks against enemy infrastructure – specifically the Iranian nuke-facilities.
Last June, the Iranian authorities accused the US, Israel and Britain of strategizing on “an operation to launch a massive cyber attack against Iran's facilities following the meeting between Iran and the P5+1 in Moscow.”
Reports link the latest malware threat supposedly began in 2011 when FBI agents attempted to stop hackers from taking control of some 570, 000 computers worldwide.
The hackers had allegedly ran online ad campaign scam to take control of the PCs, and in an attempt to take down the spam sites, the FBI feared they could damage victims systems, so they let them be.
“In a highly unusual move, the FBI set up a safety net. They brought in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet.
“And while it was the first time they'd done something like that, FBI officials acknowledged that it may not be the last, since authorities are taking on more of these types of investigations.
The temporary Internet system they set up, however, will be shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT Monday, July 9.”
Authorities claim in several instances, “most victims don't even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their online surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.”
However, last week both Facebook and Google put up banners warning of the impending doom and advice on how to mitigate the effects of such occurrences.
FBI claims several ISPs are ready for the problem and have plans help their customers mitigate such an occurrence.
Some firms like Comcast have sent out notices and posted information on websites.
With a prior knowledge of possible infection to a customer's Internet server, Comcast sent an email, letter or Internet notice to customers whose computers appeared to be affected.
Global social media leaders, Facebook and Google sent warning messages that showed up if someone using either site appeared to have an infected computer. Facebook users would get a message that says: “Your computer or network might be infected,” with link users can click for further information.
Google users got a similar message, displayed at the top of a Google search results page. It also provides information on correcting the problem.
Meanwhile, Google denies claims its Android-based phones have been infected with a virus that causes the devices to send out spam en masse, according to BBC reports.
Terry Zink, Microsoft researcher claimed last week to have discovered evidence that Android phones have been infected to create a botnet, which generates huge amounts of spam from host devices.
Google said in a statement that there was no evidence to support the claim that Android devices sent the spam.
The company’s investigation suggested that spam messages originated from PCs but were formatted to look like they were sent from Android smartphones.
"Our analysis suggests that spammers are using infected computers and a fake mobile signature to try to bypass anti-spam mechanisms in the email platform they're using," the Google statement said.