About a quarter-million computer users around the world would be at risk of losing internet access on Monday due to malicious software at the centre of a hacking scam that US authorities bust last November.
A number of news reports have hyped the risk of an outage, and have raised fears of a potential 'blackout' describing the Alureon malware as the 'Internet Doomsday' virus.
However, according to experts only a tiny fraction of computer users were at risk, and internet providers would be on call to quickly restore service. They added, they considered the threat to be small compared with viruses like Zeus and SpyEye, which infect millions of PCs and are used to commit financial fraud.
Meanwhile, security firm Deteque said that as of the week around 245,000 computers globally were still infected by Alureon and its brethren. The figures include 45,355 computers in the US.
According to the FBI, the viruses were designed to redirect internet traffic through rogue DNS servers controlled by criminals. DNS servers are computer switchboards that serve to direct web traffic.
When authorities shut the rogue servers, a federal judge in New York ordered that temporary servers be kept in place while the victims' machines were undergoing repairs. The temporary servers would shut at 12:01 am EDT on Monday, which means the infected PCs that had not been fixed would no longer be able to connect to the internet.