Hundreds of thousands of Internet users could soon lose access to the Web, according to a warning being issued by search giant Google.
The search engine's warning alerts users infected by DNSChanger malware that they are at risk of losing their Internet access when the FBI shuts down its Ghost Click servers July 9.
"We believe directly messaging affected users on a trusted site and in their preferred language will produce the best possible results," Damien Menscher, Google's security engineer, wrote on the company's blog. "If more devices are cleaned and steps are taken to better secure the machines against further abuse, the notification effort will be well worth it."
An alert issued by Google to users infected with the DNSChanger malware through the company's search engine.
The FBI has been maintaining the servers in an effort to counter DNSChanger malware used by a seven-person crime ring the FBI arrested and charged last November.
The servers were initially scheduled to shut down in March, but that was delayed by court order until July 9, in order to give infected users more time to remove the malware.
The DNSChanger malware was a Trojan horse that "showed users an altered version of the Internet" that could "give fake, malicious answers, altering user searches, and promoting fake and dangerous products," according to the DNSChanger Working Group, an organization established to counter the malware.
At its peak, the malware infected an estimated four million computers worldwide, 500,000 in the United States. The malware persists today, and it is estimated that it still infects as many as 330,000 computers worldwide.
The individuals responsible for distributing the malware allegedly defrauded users and advertisers of approximately $14 million from the time the malware was first discovered in December 2007.