Internet users ‘should check for blackout virus’

The German government says all internet users should check their computers for a virus which could stop them going online from March 8.

Internet users 'should check for blackout virus'
Photo: DPA

The “DNS-Changer” program infects up to 33,000 computers in Germany each day, according to authorities who arrested those behind the scheme in November.

A “DNS-Changer” infection means a computer connects to a fake version of the Domain Name System – the service which enables access to websites, the Office for Information Technology Security (BSI) said on its website on Wednesday.

Rather than connecting to the normal DNS, an infected computer is instead re-routed to websites which criminals have manipulated and use for fraudulent activities such as the spreading of fake anti-virus software.

Those operating the fake DNS have also been sending manipulated advertising to infected computers, manipulated search results and sent further malware to them.

Although the FBI and European police authorities arrested many of those operating the fake DNS system in November, they left the system running while a real one was put in its place. But the fake one will be shut down on March 8, leaving those computers still connecting to it, in the dark.

A quick check can be carried out by logging onto the site which has been set up by the government, Deutsche Telekom and the German federal police.

A simple green-coloured response from the site means your computer is free of the “DNS-Changer”. The BSI said the page would not start a program or download anything.

A red response means your computer is infected, and the site will offer a number of suggestions of how to fix it.

The Local/hc

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Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners