The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, working in collaboration with Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and unidentified organizations in the technology industry, have successfully disrupted the Sirefef botnet, also known as ZeroAccess.
The botnet, one of the largest ever detected, is thought to have enslaved more than two million computers worldwide, costing online advertisers as much as $2.7 million each month as the operation targets Google, Bing and Yahoo search results.
“Today’s action is expected to significantly disrupt the botnet’s operation, increasing the cost and risk for cybercriminals to continue doing business and preventing victims’ computers from committing fraudulent schemes,” Microsoft stated.
Using a legal strategy that has been successful in previous botnet takedowns, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the botnet’s operators to get an injunction that would prevent communications between zombie computers in the U.S. and IP addresses that have been connected the botnet, as well as taking control of 49 associated domains.
“This operation marks an important step in coordinated actions that are initiated by private companies and, at the same time, enable law enforcement agencies around Europe to identify and investigate the criminal organizations and networks behind these dangerous botnets that use malicious software to gain illicit profits,” said Troels Oerting, head of the EC3.
Previously, Microsoft was instrumental in the Rustock botnet takedown, which was estimated to have controlled between 250,000 and 1,000,000 computers, as well as the shut down the Waledac botnet and the massive Zeus Trojan botnet.
Microsoft was criticized for using the power of the courts to strike at the heart of massive botnet operations, but it seems the tactic has been immensely successful.
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