500,000 zombie PCs imperiled as expiration of court order approaches

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An estimated half million users of compromised computer systems risk losing their Internet connection next month unless a federal judge extends a court order authorizing a California not-for-profit to operate a network of surrogate domain-name-system servers.

Paul Vixie, founder of the Internet Systems Consortium, has been operating the servers since early November, when federal authorities obtained court permission for him to replace a fleet of rogue DNS resolvers used in a massive fraud scheme that directed millions of end users to websites they never intended to visit. Without the replacement servers, millions of people hit by the DNSChanger botnet would have experienced internet failures when the rogue systems were unplugged.

At a conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Vixie said about 500,000 end users are still relying on the replacement servers to translate domain names into IP addresses. He made clear that if the court order expires on March 8 as it is now scheduled to do, his ISC non-profit, which maintains the open-source BIND DNS software package, will cease operating the replacement servers. And that will leave many of those still compromised in the dark.