The day that was supposed to see thousands of people knocked off the Internet globally arrived Monday, but only a few people were affected.
Major service providers in Baton Rouge said they weren’t aware of any difficulties among their local customers.
Thousands of Internet users across the U.S. and beyond who waited too long or simply didn’t believe warnings were in danger of losing access to the Internet just after midnight because of malware that took over computers around the world more than a year ago.
The FBI turned off Internet servers that were functioning as a temporary safety net to keep infected computers online for the past eight months. A court order the agency had gotten to keep the servers running expired, and was not renewed.
FBI officials have been tracking the number of computers they believe still may be infected by the malware. As of Sunday night, there were about 41,800 in the U.S., down from 45,600 on July 4. Worldwide, the total is roughly 211,000 infected. An estimated 2.3 billion people around the world use the Internet, according to Internet World Stats.
Local Internet providers Cox Communications, Eatel and AT&T said Monday they were not aware of anyone in the Baton Rouge area with malware-infected computers.
Cox said it began working with the FBI months ago to contact infected customers, which was less than 1 percent of its total customer base. Spokeswoman Sharon Bethea said Cox will work directly with any customers who have been knocked off the Internet due to the virus.
Sue Sperry, the Gulf states spokeswoman for AT&T, said anyone affected can still run the software patch and get rid of the malware. She said AT&T plans to continue handling DNS rerouting for infected computers until the end of the year.
Eatel spokesman Trae Russell said some customers called to ask about the virus, but none had infected computers.
Verizon Communications Inc. said it will “continue to provide extended support to our customers during the month of July — while continuing to instruct them on the necessary actions they must take to resolve the issue on their computers.”
The company added that it has notified affected customers “using a variety of methods, including email, phone calls and postal mail correspondence.”
The problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world. When the FBI went in to take down the hackers late last year, agents realized that if they turned off the malicious servers being used to control the computers, all the victims would lose their Internet service.
In a highly unusual move, the FBI set up the safety net. They brought in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet.
And they arranged for a private company to run a website, http://www.dcwg.org, to help computer users determine whether their computer was infected and find links to other computer security business sites where they could find fixes for the problem.
From the onset, most victims didn’t even know their computers had been infected, although the malicious software probably slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.
Advocate business writer Chad Calder and Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Barbara Ortutay
contributed to this report.