The U.S. just shut down a cyber crime ring that infected between 500,000 and 1 million computers with a virus named GameOver Zeus, the Justice Department announced on Monday.
The virus usually gets into your computer through spam emails. Once it's taken hold, GameOver Zeus can get access to your banking information and passwords, send more spam from your computer and engage in distributed denial-of-service attacks that damage other computer systems and networks.
The feds shut down the group behind the virus -- led by Russian hacker Evgeniy Bogachev -- but the malware is still out there. And the virus is bad that the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) created a webpage on Tuesday to teach people how to protect themselves .
Only PCs are affected. Specifically, Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and Microsoft Server 2003, Server 2008, Server 2008 R2, and Server 201, according to US-CERT.
If you use one of those systems, here's what you need to do:
Get some good anti-virus software
It might sound like a no-brainer, but if you don't have any anti-virus software on your PC, you should get some. There are a ridiculous number of different types of software from different companies for different prices, so just choose one that fits in your budget and works on your system. If your computer is on the older side and there isn't any anti-virus software available, you'll just have to make due with the other tips, or consider upgrading.
Update your software
An easy way to protect yourself from viruses is to make sure all of your computer software is up to date. One way to make sure your software is new -- if you have Windows 7 -- is to click the Start button, search for "Update" and click "Windows Update." Then click "Check for updates" and press "Install updates" if any are available. This process is different on different systems, so check out Microsoft's website to see how to update your specific PC.
Take advantage of anti-malware tools
Look at this list and you'll be able to find a good anti-malware tool that will work for your computer, especially if you suspect you've already been infected.
As always... change your passwords
We've said it before and we'll say it again. When big viruses or password leaks appear, you need to change your passwords. US-CERT doesn't specify which passwords are vulnerable, so you should be safe and change all of them. There are a bunch of apps and tools that take care of your passwords and can make your life a little safer and keep your passwords up to date.