'ZeroAccess' click-fraud botnet disrupted, but not dead yet
Microsoft, along with the FBI and Europol, said the botnet cost online advertisers $2.7 million a month
IDG News Service - Microsoft and law enforcement agencies said Thursday that they disrupted a botnet that defrauded online advertisers of $2.7 million a month but that the malicious network hasn't been completely eliminated.
The "ZeroAccess" botnet infected computers with malicious software that interfered with search results in a browser, directing people to websites where cybercriminals profited from bogus clicks on ads, according to a news release.
Microsoft, working with A10 Networks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency, said they did not expect to completely stop the botnet due to its complexity.
As it has done in other botnet interventions, Microsoft filed a civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against eight unnamed "John Doe" defendants.
The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 25, alleges that the defendants also used the infected computers to commit identify theft and DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. A notice announcing the lawsuit is written in both English and Russian, indicating the suspected language of some of the accused.
Online advertiser spend hit $20.1 billion in the U.S. in the first half of this year, according to the lawsuit. The industry's "size and rapid growth combined with its highly technical and organizational complexity has made online advertising a rich environment for cybercriminals," the suit said.
In click-fraud scams, advertisers end up paying for bogus clicks generated by software. The traffic from infected computers is sold by cybercriminals to other people running websites, who benefit by collecting fraudulent advertising revenue.
The U.S. federal court allowed Microsoft and investigators to block communication between the botnet and U.S.-based computers and take control of 49 domain names used by the botnet.
Europol, working with Latvia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany, executed search warrants and seizure orders on various computers related to 18 IP addresses connected with ZeroAccess.
As many as 1.9 million computers were infected with the botnet code in October, Microsoft said, citing research from the University of California at San Diego. About 800,000 computers infected with ZeroAccess are active on the Internet on a given day.
ZeroAccess disables security software on a computer, making it difficult to remove, Microsoft said. Microsoft has published general instructions for how people can keep their computer free of malware.
Send news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
- Why Projects Fail CIOs are expected to deliver more projects that transform business, and do so on time, on budget and with limited resources.
- The New Business Case for Video Conferencing: 7 Real-World Benefits Beyond Cost-Savings This whitepaper provides insight into the value of video conferencing in today's business environment, and how organizations are using visual collaboration to find...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- 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... All Cybercrime and Hacking White Papers | Webcasts