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Microsoft and others take down a thieving botnet

Affected millions and cost advertisers millions a month
Fri Dec 06 2013, 09:52

SOFTWARE GIANT Microsoft has played a part in smashing a botnet that infected millions of computers while siphoning off advertising cash.

Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit announced its third botnet scalp of the year, saying that it helped take down Zeroaccess, a botnet of millions of computers that swanned off with $2.7m a month.

"Today, we're pleased to announce that Microsoft, in conjunction with Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the Federal Bureau of Investigation and technology industry leaders such as A10 Networks, has taken action against the rampant Sirefef botnet, also known as Zeroaccess," it said.

"Zeroaccess is responsible for hijacking search results and directing people to potentially dangerous websites that could install malware onto their computer, steal their personal information or fraudulently charge businesses for online advertisement clicks. Zeroaccess also commits click fraud."

The concerted effort will be followed up by Microsoft and partners who will inform their customers about possible infection and offer them security advice.

Zeroaccess is so virulent that Microsoft suspects it will not be able to remove all traces of it. However, it does expect to have a significant impact on its operation.

"We do expect this legal and technical action will significantly disrupt the botnet's operation by disrupting the cybercriminals' business model and forcing them to rebuild their criminal infrastructure, as well as preventing victims' computers from committing the fraudulent schemes," it added.

Punters concerned about infection are advised to visit Microsoft's botnet information page. It adds that Zeroaccess is "very sophisticated malware", that blocks attempts at removal. µ


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