FBI could soon cut off Internet access to thousands

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX -- It's being called the Internet Kill Switch. While the title may sound scary, Ken Colburn with Data Doctors says you can avoid it.

In the coming months, the FBI is expected to cut off Internet access to hundreds of thousands of computers.

Late last year, the FBI arrested six people allegedly involved in a massive hacking scheme.
Investigators say the men hijacked 4 million computers worldwide -- a half-million in the U.S. --- with the DNSChanger Trojan.

It’s a virus that takes over your computer's domain name system settings.

“These hackers, last year, took over the directory assistance, in you will, for your computer on 4 million computers out there,” Ken Colburn with Data Doctors explains. “So, when you were trying to find something on the Internet, instead of sending you to a legitimate site it would take you to a fraudulent or rogue site.”

After the bust, the FBI created a replacement system -- a splint of sorts, or Band-Aid -- to keep users connected. But the court order that put that splint in place is set to expires March 8.

The FBI has requested the deadline be extended to give users more time to clean up their computers.

Colburn says you need to know this so-called Internet Kill Switch will get flipped, it’s just a matter of when.

“Really, the big thing we want to do is get the word out,” he said. “Have everybody check their machines, we can get everybody cleaned up then there won't be an issue when they turn off this network.”

To help get the word out, the FBI has issued instructions explaining how to check your computer for the virus from home. So have the Data Doctors, which is also offering to check computers for free.

Even though checking your settings is supposed to be a simple process, Colburn says many still feel overwhelmed.