A simple test takes less than a minute but could save PC users a big headache come Monday morning.
The F.B.I. has been managing a sophisticated computer virus for five years. The agency says the malware leaves everyone from Fortune 500 companies to people at home vulnerable to losing internet access.
Sixty-four thousand computers in the U.S. alone are thought to be infected with the 'DNS Changer Virus' which allows hackers to divert internet traffic.
The virus isn't new, in 2007 the FBI got a court order to set up replacement servers so users wouldn't be knocked off-line. But on Monday that order runs out, leaving those with infected machines unable to get online.
Kristan Yoder of Quick Connect in Lincoln says the malware can stop installation and updates leaving even those with anti-virus software open to infection. If you think your computer might have the virus, Yoder recommends backing up important data and reformatting your hard drive. Yoder says you can also ask your internet service provider to change your D.N.S.. He adds that it's also important to change all of your passwords.
The F.B.I. is offering a free, user-friendly program to see if your computer is infected. To access the site click on www.DCWG.org and click on "detect' to find out how to test your computer. You can also log on to http://www.dns-ok.us/ .After running the check, your computer will show green or red. If it's red, Yoder suggests contacting your local internet service provider or a local repair shop like Quick Connect for help.