You’re reading this, so it’s safe to say the Internet did not, in fact, shut down today, like it had been predicted to on various news sites over the past week.
Just like back in high school, all salacious rumors, in this case, Internet Doomsday, have only a small grain of truth to them. The actual story, helpfully summarized by Time, is:
“In 2007, cyberthieves created malware, dubbed DNSChanger, that manipulated the way Internet ads appeared in infected computer browsers, allowing the cybercrooks to rack up millions in illicit fees.
The malware depended on a basic Internet principle called DNS (Domain Name System), which is how Internet routers know where to send your Internet requests — that is, how to translate a URL like http://www.time.com into a numeric IP address when you type it into your browser’s address bar.
Computers infected by DNSChanger had their local DNS information changed and were redirected to fraudulent servers that delivered Web-based ads that eventually channeled millions of dollars to the malware authors.”
In November, the FBI caught on. Given that so many people were affected, the FBI chose to not shut down the servers right away, giving people time to fix their machines. But all that ends today. The number of computers affected? Just .02% of PCs worldwide (there was a website you could go to to check to see if your computer was infected, but that’s become pointless now.)
Again, if you’re reading this, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You don’t have to ponder deep, philosophical questions like what you would do with your time without Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, EW.com.