Microsoft, Symantec take down Bamital click-fraud botnet
The botnet infected as many as 8 million computers over the past two years, the companies said
IDG News Service - Microsoft and Symantec have dismantled a botnet that took over millions of computers for criminal activities such as identity theft and click fraud.
The Bamital botnet threatened the US$12.7 billion online advertising industry by generating fraudulent clicks on Internet ads, which fund many of the free online services available to consumers, the companies said.
As many as 8 million computers were infected with Bamital over the past two years, wrote Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel for Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit, in a blog post Wednesday.
It's the sixth botnet Microsoft has shut down in the past three years, and the second done in cooperation with Symantec, Boscovich wrote.
"Most if not all owners of Bamital-infected computers are unaware that their machines are infected," Microsoft said in a civil suit filed Jan. 31 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The suit asked the court for permission to disrupt the botnet's command-and-control system. U.S. Marshals escorted investigators into Web-hosting facilities in Virginia and New Jersey, where they seized evidence and data, Boscovich wrote.
As in previous botnet-related lawsuits, Microsoft named 18 "John Doe" defendants, several of whom are listed as living in Russia, the U.S. and the U.K. The lawsuit will be amended when the defendants' real names are discovered.
The Bamital code caused users to be shuffled to malicious websites even if they clicked on legitimate search results returned by Microsoft's Bing search engine, as well as those of Yahoo and Google, according to the lawsuit.
By generating unintended clicks and visits, the botnet distorted the online advertising environment by making advertisers pay for clicks that were not genuine, the lawsuit says.
"Simply put, the ad owner paid for internet traffic that is of no use," it states.
Bamital could also steal personal information from computers and conduct distributed denial-of-service attacks, which disrupt websites by bombarding them with too much traffic.
An effort to clean up the infected computers is under way. When people with infected computers complete a search query, they're directed to a Web page from Microsoft and Symantec that explains how to remove the malicious software.
"We've found that cleanup efforts like this not only help clean people's computers, but they also take the very infrastructure the botnet needs to be impactful and profitable away from the cybercriminals," Boscovich wrote.
Send news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts