The US might have to switch off millions of computers worldwide which are infected with the DNSChanger trojan, uness a court gives it an extension.
The government does not want to do it, and is approaching the courts to allow it to manage servers which the DNSChanger trojan can connect to. However, if a court says no, the services will go dark and the victims of the trojan will lose their internet connections.
Six men accused of managing and profiting from the botnet are expected to be extradited from their native Estonia to face charges in the United States.
DNSChanger modifies settings on a host PC that tells the computer how to find websites on the internet, hijacking victims' search results and preventing them from visiting security sites that might help detect and scrub the infections.
A New York district court ordered a private US company to assume control over those servers. At the time the plan was that ISPs and companies would have time to identify and scrub infected PCs.
According to Krebs on Security, the surrogate control servers remain in operation until 8 March but it turns out that the cleanup process is taking a lot longer than expected.
More than 3 million systems worldwide, with 500,000 in the United States, remain infected with the trojan.
The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and NASA, asked the court to extend the 8 March deadline by more than four months to give ISPs, private companies and the government more time to clean up the mess.
But there are those who think that extending the deadline is a bad idea, as nothing will focus the user's minds on cleaning up their machines as well as a computer that does not work.