Thousands of Internet users who did not heed the call to check their PCs for DNSChanger awoke Monday morning to find themselves cut off from essentially the universe.
They, and perhaps you, were likely hit by a malware known as DNSChanger, a Trojan spread by six Estonian cyber-criminals last year, that redirected computers to faux servers and fed users junk sites full of ads.
The crooks banked $14 million on the scheme before the FBI cracked down on them and hijacked their servers. But the FBI cut off their servers Monday, after temporarily letting them run while infected computer were fixed.
The FBI estimates about 300,000 people will be left without Internet Monday, according to the BBC. Are you among the unlucky few to sleep through the whole thing? Well here's a bit of help.
Let's take a second to ignore the cognitive dissonance that comes with posting a "How to get your Internet connection back" guide on ... the Internet. We're just assuming you're sitting at your desk at work or scoping out the instructions on your mobile device.
1) Back it up: This is pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you save all of your critical files onto an external drive of some sort.
2) Give your ISP a call: If you're tired of reading and would rather hear the soothing sounds of the Hold music from you ISP, call them. They'll be integral in the process regardless, and may be of some help. Results are not guaranteed. If you're more of the low-level pioneering type, read on.
3) Start from scratch: Your best bet is to reinstall your computer's operating system. Some viruses are impervious to this cure, but thankfully DNSChanger disappears when you uninstall Windows. Thankfully, Microsoft has taken the grunt work out of explaining that process. Check out their step-by-steps here.
4) Or... Run A Scan: This could be tricky. If you were lucky enough to download and install one of the many suggested DNSChanger removal tools, simply crack it open on your Internet-dead PC and run that program. If not? Hop onto the nearest working computer available and download McAfee's free removal tool. Do not install it. Drag the "stinger.exe" file onto a USB drive and take that file to your downed-PC. Drag that and drop it onto your damaged PC and install it that way.
5) Don't let us say "told you so" again: Next time there's an Internet doomsday, pay attention. These things do actually happen once in a while. Y2K was the exception, not the rule.