SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

July 9, 2012

Having trouble getting online? Call your provider

WASHINGTON — Having trouble getting online?

Some may find their smartphones working overtime because the family computer couldn't seem to connect to the Internet Monday morning.

You may be one of thousands across the United States who waited too long or simply didn't believe the warnings, and your Internet may have shut down just after midnight because of malware that took over computers around the world more than a year ago.

At 12:01 a.m. EDT, the FBI turned off the Internet servers that were functioning as a temporary safety net to keep infected computers online for the past eight months. The court order the agency had gotten to keep the servers running expired, and it was not renewed.

Now, if your computer is infected, your only hope is your Internet service provider's help desk.

In South Korea, there were no reports from affected computers Monday. As many as 80 computers there are believed to be infected with the malware that may cause problems in Web surfing, down from 1,798 computers in February, according to the government.

"The impact will be limited," said Lee Sang-hun, head of network security at the Korea Communications Commission, a government body. The government and private broadband providers opened helplines and issued warnings. They also asked users to check if their computers were infected and to download antivirus software. South Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world, with more than 90 percent of households connected to broadband Internet.

The problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world. When the FBI went in to take down the hackers late last year, agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their Internet service.

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