The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning that more than 252,000 computers worldwide still carry a virus spread by a fraud ring that was dismantled last year.
As a result, users of infected computers who don’t scrub their systems might lose Internet access next week, the FBI said.
The virus had redirected users to the thieves’ servers, said Tom Grasso, a supervisory special agent with the FBI’s Cyber Division in Pittsburgh. After the ring was broken up by authorities, the agency temporarily set up “clean” servers in November to prevent that from happening, a service that’s set to end on July 9.
An estimated 45,619 computer users in the U.S. still have the virus, down from an estimated peak of 175,365, Grasso said.
Google Inc., operator of the world’s largest search engine, has displayed warnings at the top of its search results for users with an affected computer since May, said Jay Nancarrow, a spokesman for the Mountain View, California-based company.
Computer users may check to see whether they’re infected by visiting www.dcwg.org, Grasso said.
The virus interferes with a computer’s ability to resolve domain names, making it appear that users are no longer on the Internet. Users who don’t fix the problem in advance will have to call their Internet-service providers for help reconnecting, Grasso said.
“I don’t think this is going to be like a doomsday event where there’s going to be panic on Monday,” Grasso said.