VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The fallout from a major computer virus will be felt right around the world on Monday with Internet access going dark for hundreds of thousands of people.

The virus is DNSChanger which, for the most part, has been disabled but still affects Internet access for many people using both PCs and Apple products.

“It’s a piece of malware that’s been around for a few years and last year the FBI worked with international partners to shut down the botnet. Since then, the number of computers infected has dropped from five million to about 250,000 that are on life support,” says Christopher Parsons, a privacy, security and Internet governance expert at the University of Victoria.

The FBI has kept those computers connected to the Internet though temporary proxy servers, but that will end on Monday.

“A lot of the really nasty stuff this virus was doing has stopped and people may actually think that since the FBI stopped the harmful aspects of this botnet that it has been fixed. But what happened is that rather than going through the criminal’s network to access the Internet, now you’re going through a network controlled by allies of the FBI,” explains Parsons.

“But that will end very soon and for individuals all around the world, the Internet will just go dark,” he adds.

Nearly 9,000 computers in Canada have been identified as still infected with DNSChanger.

“It’s not necessarily obvious,” notes Parsons. “Some of the things this malware has done in the past is disable virus scanning software, so if you’ve been having problems there, it may be an indication you are infected.”

Unexpected ads or webpages may also be a sign of infection, as DNSChanger was designed as a scam to garner money through advertising.

“If you tried to go to Google, it would send you to Yahoo because that search page has a different economic framework for ads; rather than clicking through to an ad, you just have to see it. The scammers had set up a system whereby they were directing you to websites and they were paid for the ads you browsed to,” says Parsons.

Ads were also modified or switched on some webpages viewed on infected computers.

“Through this, they made about $15 million over the course of a few years. It was a very tidy little scheme. For users, the most common complaint was it was annoying, but not annoying enough for them to take their computers into a shop to get fixed,” he explains.

Fortunately, for anyone waking up Monday with no Internet or email access, there is a very easy fix.

CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registry Authority, has actually set up a really nice website to help people figure out if they’re infected and it will walk you through a process to tell you if you are infected or not,” says Parsons.

“It will then redirect you to a Government of Canada website, which will take you through the steps to remove the malware,” he adds.

Warnings have also been splashed across Facebook. Google users got a similar message, displayed at the top of a Google search results page; it also provides information on correcting the problem.