Study: Web Volume Not Impacted by DNSChanger

Study: Web Volume Not Impacted by DNSChanger

  • 10 July 2012

On July 9th, FBI sponsored government servers whose sole purpose was to keep DNSChanger-infected computers online were switched off according to plan, potentially affecting millions of consumers. DNSChanger hijacks computers and modifies their domain name system (DNS) settings, allowing the virus to direct the clicks of consumers at will. However, this threat may be played up – a recent study in the U.S. on July 4th 2012 found that only 2 out of every 10,000 computers were still affected by DNSChanger. Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute stated that they “haven’t seen a single report” of someone losing Internet access.

To investigate the impact of DNSChanger, Chitika Insights analyzed data from the Chitika Ad network to determine whether there was any discernible drop in overall web volume in the hours before and after the event. The data in the graph below is comprised of hundreds of millions of ad impressions ranging from the 16 UTC hour on July 8 2012 and the 8 UTC hour on July 9 2012:

The data shows that there was no significant impact in terms of overall web volume after the FBI shut down the dedicated servers intended to keep consumers online. This is likely in part due to the low level of penetration seen by DNSChanger after public awareness campaigns. ISPs also played a role in keeping consumers online, by redirecting the traffic of infected users to servers set up which will allow them to continue to access the web.

Stay tuned to Chitika Insights for future reports on DNSChanger. We will be watching web volume when ISP providers shut down their substituted DNS servers, Verizon at the end of July and AT&T at the end of the year.