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If you’re having Internet trouble, blame the DNS Changer

Molly Wood Jul 9, 2012

If you’re having Internet trouble, blame the DNS Changer

Molly Wood Jul 9, 2012

Do you find yourself unable to get on the Internet this morning? If so, it could be due to a virus known as DNS Changer.

Chester Wisniewski is with the security firm Sophos.

Chester Wisniewski: Over the past several years, there was an Estonian criminal group that was installing a virus on people’s computers to perform some advertising fraud to get paid for some online advertisements, and to do that, they redirected some traffic from the victim’s computers to go through computers that they controlled so they could display some advertising to them. The FBI arrested these guys last fall and took control of this equipment, but it’s time to turn it off and get people to change their settings back to the correct ones.

Moe: So then what should people do about it if they think this might have happened to them?

Wisniewski: Well, if they don’t have Internet today, I would recommend that they call their Internet Service Provider. Most Internet Service Providers are aware of how to help people change the settings on their computers to help them get back online.

Chester Wisniewski of Sophos. He says if you can get online another way, there’s information about the virus at the DNS Changer Working Group, dcwg.org.

From online invaders we go to, well, space invaders. “Year Zero” is a new novel that’s kind of “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” meets all those lawsuits about Napster. The author is Rob Reid.

Rob Reid: The universe is filled with a vast alien civilization that is so into human pop music, that it accidentally commits the biggest copyright infringement since the Big Bang, thereby bankrupting the entire universe, all the wealth in the universe if owed to humanity and to our record labels, and a couple of aliens, sort of a self-appointed delegation come to Earth to try to straighten the matter out.

Moe: The title refers to year zero, which is 1977 — significant?

Reid: 1977 is the moment when the aliens first intercept a human broadcast. It’s a Welcome Back Kotter show. So, as they’re watching this Kotter show, they’re kind of thinking like how do these people even have broadcast technology even? Their sight gags are terrible, their editing is awful, the fashion sense and all that, and then the theme music begins, and it’s widely viewed at that moment as being the greatest creative triumph since the dawn of time itself.

Reid has some expertise when it comes to copyright issues and the music industry. He started a company that eventually became the online music service Rhapsody. I asked him how that background informed the novel.

Reid: Well, I learned more than I ever imagined that I would about copyright law first of all. I also learned a great deal about the music industry and deeper than that how big media interests interact with Washington D.C. to create laws that are very very favorable to them and kind of how the sausage of law is made. Those are all themes that go on inside the book.

Moe: And is your point that copyright laws threaten to destroy the world?

Reid: Not the world, the universe. It’s something that sets the dynamic of the storyline in action. I don’t think the integrity of the world or our planet is threatened by bad copyright law. I do think there are aspects of copyright law that really need to be modernized and brought into the digital era, and the book explores that I’d say in a playful manner rather than being a political diatribe.

Rob Reid’s novel “Year Zero” comes out tomorrow.

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