[LINK] FBI & DNSChanger Malware

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Thu Nov 10 19:05:56 AEDT 2011


DNSChanger Malware

DNS (Domain Name System) is an Internet service that converts user-
friendly domain names into the numerical Internet protocol (IP) addresses 
that computers use to talk to each other. 

When you enter a domain name, such as www.fbi.gov, in your web browser 
address bar, your computer contacts DNS servers to determine the IP 
address for the website. Your computer then uses this IP address to 
locate and connect to the website. DNS servers are operated by your 
Internet service provider (ISP) and are included in your computer’s 
network configuration. DNS and DNS Servers are a critical component of 
your computer’s operating environment—without them, you would not be able 
to access websites, send e-mail, or use any other Internet services.

Criminals have learned that if they can control a user’s DNS servers, 
they can control what sites the user connects to on the Internet. 

By controlling DNS, a criminal can get an unsuspecting user to connect to 
a fraudulent website or to interfere with that user’s online web 
browsing. One way criminals do this is by infecting computers with a 
class of malicious software (malware) called DNSChanger. 

In this scenario, the criminal uses the malware to change the user’s DNS 
server settings to replace the ISP’s good DNS servers with bad DNS 
servers operated by the criminal. A bad DNS server operated by a criminal 
is referred to as a rogue DNS server.

The FBI has uncovered a network of rogue DNS servers and has taken steps 
to disable it. 

The FBI is also undertaking an effort to identify and notify victims who 
have been impacted by the DNSChanger malware. 

One consequence of disabling the rogue DNS network is that victims who 
rely on the rogue DNS network for DNS service could lose access to DNS 

To address this, the FBI has worked with private sector technical experts 
to develop a plan for a private-sector, non-government entity to operate 
and maintain clean DNS servers for the infected victims. The FBI has also 
provided information to ISPs that can be used to redirect their users 
from the rogue DNS servers to the ISPs’ own legitimate servers. 

The FBI will support the operation of the clean DNS servers for four 
months, allowing time for users, businesses, and other entities to 
identify and fix infected computers. At no time will the FBI have access 
to any data concerning the Internet activity of the victims.

It is quite possible that computers infected with this malware may also 
be infected with other malware. The establishment of these clean DNS 
servers does not guarantee that the computers are safe from other 
malware. The main intent is to ensure users do not lose DNS services.

What Does DNSChanger Do to My Computer?

DNSChanger malware causes a computer to use rogue DNS servers in one of 
two ways. 

First, it changes the computer’s DNS server settings to replace the ISP’s 
good DNS servers with rogue DNS servers operated by the criminal. 

Second, it attempts to access devices on the victim’s small office/home 
office (SOHO) network that run a dynamic host configuration protocol 
(DHCP) server (eg. a router or home gateway). The malware attempts to 
access these devices using common default usernames and passwords and, if 
successful, changes the DNS servers these devices use from the ISP’s good 
DNS servers to rogue DNS servers operated by the criminals. This is a 
change that may impact all computers on the SOHO network, even if those 
computers are not infected with the malware.

Am I Infected?

The best way to determine if your computer or SOHO router has been 
affected by DNSChanger is to have them evaluated by a computer 
professional. However, the following steps can help you gather 
information before consulting a computer professional.

To determine if a computer is using rogue DNS servers, it is necessary to 
check the DNS server settings on the computer. If the computer is 
connected to a wireless access point or router, the settings on those 
devices should be checked as well.

Checking the Computer:

If you are using a Windows computer, open a command prompt. This can be 
done by selecting Run from the Start Menu and entering cmd.exe or 
starting the command prompt application, typically located in the 
Accessories folder within Programs on your Start Menu, as shown below:

At the command prompt, enter: ipconfig /all

Look for the entry that reads “DNS Servers……….”

The numbers on this line and the line(s) below it are the IP addresses 
for your DNS servers. These numbers are in the format of nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn, 
where nnn is a number in the range of 0 to 255. Make note of the IP 
addresses for the DNS servers and compare them to the table of known 
rogue DNS servers listed later in this document. If the IP addresses of 
your DNS server appear in the table below, then the computer is using 
rogue DNS.

You can also look for your DNS servers without using the command prompt.

For windows XP machines, click on Start and select My Network Places. 
Then select Network Connections. In this example, the wireless connection 
is used.

Click on the connection that is active. This will bring up the Network 
Connection Status screen. Click on Support and then Details. Check for 
the values that correspond to the DNS servers.

If you are using an Apple computer, click on the Apple in the top left 
corner and choose System Preferences. Then, from the Apple System 
Preferences window, choose Network.

The Apple Network pane will show a number of possible connections on the 
left side. Choose the one that is active for you and click on the 
Advanced button in the right lower corner. Then choose DNS from the 
options to show the DNS servers you are using.

Compare whether your computer has DNS servers listed in the number ranges 
listed below.

Rogue DNS Servers through through through through through through

To make the comparison between the computer’s DNS servers and this table 
easier, start by comparing the first number before the first dot. For 
example, if your DNS servers do not start with 85, 67, 93, 77, 213, or 
64, you can move on to the next step. If your servers start with any of 
those numbers, continue the comparison.

If your computer is configured to use one or more of the rogue DNS 
servers, it may be infected with DNSChanger malware.

Home computers with high-speed Internet connections and office computers 
typically obtain their IP settings via DHCP from a device on the network. 
In these cases, the computers are provided with an IP address, default 
gateway, and DNS server settings. The IP addresses usually fall into one 
of three ranges of private addresses— to; to; and to In most 
homes, computers are assigned an IP address in the range to, and the default gateway and DNS servers are set to To determine if your computer is utilizing the rogue DNS 
servers, read the next section, Checking the Router.

If you are unable to locate your DNS server settings, obtain assistance 
from the Help program bundled with your operating system, reputable 
online sources, or a trusted professional.

Checking the Router

Small office/home office routers connect your network of computers and 
devices to your Internet service provider. The SOHO router may have been 
purchased and installed by you or installed by your ISP. Linksys, D-Link, 
Netgear, and Cisco are common SOHO router brands, but there are many 

The DNSChanger malware is capable of changing the DNS server settings 
within SOHO routers that have the default username and password provided 
by the manufacturer. If you did not change the default password at the 
time the SOHO router was installed, you must check the SOHO router 

The procedure to access your SOHO router setting varies by manufacturer, 
so consult your product documentation. Once you have access to the SOHO 
router configuration, compare the DNS servers listed to those in the 
rogue DNS servers table above. If your SOHO router is configured to use 
one or more of the rogue DNS servers, a computer on your network may be 
infected with DNSChanger malware.

What Should I Do?

In addition to directing your computer to utilize rogue DNS servers, the 
DNSChanger malware may have prevented your computer from obtaining 
operating system and anti-malware updates, both critical to protecting 
your computer from online threats. This behavior increases the likelihood 
of your computer being infected by additional malware. The criminals who 
conspired to infect computers with this malware utilized various methods 
to spread the infections. At this time, there is no single patch or fix 
that can be downloaded and installed to remove this malware. Individuals 
who believe their computer may be infected should consult a computer 

Individuals who do not have a recent back-up of their important 
documents, photos, music, and other files should complete a back-up 
before attempting to clean the malware or utilize the restore procedures 
that may have been packaged with your computer.

Information regarding malicious software removal can be found at the 
website of the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team: 



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