Hansie Smit
Hansie Smit

Have a break, have a DNS malware blackout

I’m really looking forward to the internet blackout forecast for this week. It’s not that I hate the internet – I quite like it as a matter of fact – it’s just that I think we can all do with a little time offline sleeping or sitting in the sun or whatever it is we did before this all-consuming medium came along. And this week’s our chance.

As of Monday July 9, authorities in the US promised to shut down a bunch of servers set up to protect about 500 000 computers from a virus hell-bent on cutting off their internet. The Alureon DNS super trojan malware something or other. Like anything IT it’s pretty complicated. Regrettably, if you’re reading this it means your machine is not one of the infected ones. Hardly surprising since you’re in the SA where our internet is tip-top and our hackers rock bottom. But don’t let that stop you from getting your hands dirty and effecting a little DNS malware blackout of your own — only for an hour or so and just because you’re worth it. It’s really easy also.

Just click on the little thingamajig with the bars in the bottom-right corner, click on “disconnect” and voilà. If you’re plugged in via dial-up, reach around the back and pull out the first cord you touch. Keep going until you’re offline. Just don’t do it now otherwise you won’t get to read the end of this (hang in there it gets better) and don’t confuse your hour offline with the 67 minutes for Madiba. 67 minutes for Madiba is only happening next week during which everyone is encouraged to do something for someone else. Treating yourself to an internet blackout is just about the most self-indulgent thing one can do these days.

It affords you the luxury to turn to your boss and say, “Hey man, no email, no Google, no lunchtime Facebook – I can’t work like this” and go home. Maintain your blackout a little while longer and you can tell the wife or husband depending on your situation, “Honey, I’m not going to the shops all the banks are probably offline also so let’s just see what’s in the house” gooi off the lights and have a candle-lit dinner. Stay offline longer and you might just get to make sweet love to your spouse that very evening. Do your best not to go online in the morning and the rest of the day is yours to do “whatever”.

But how will I know what the weather is doing, what’s in that Zapiro cartoon, how to make bobotie you ask? ETV news, Mail & Guardian print edition, Kook & Geniet. The offline world is full of surprises like these. I hear they have places called music stores where you can buy music in plastic format on devices called compact discs. You have to pay, but at least the songs are in the correct order and you get a little book with all the lyrics in. Fancy, nè?

PS If you are one of three people reading this on your phone (independent audit) kindly refrain from doing so while you’re driving. According to the City of Cape Town and various others it is actually very dangerous. Rather pull off and continue reading next to the road. When you’re done, switch off the phone and join us offline for a while. It’s a riot.

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