On Monday, Microsoft announced a crackdown on a major global botnet tied to Internet banking fraud. The software giant shut down numerous servers used by hackers to collect private data, such as financial records. The botnet was associated with a malicious software program called Zeus. Once installed, Zeus records users’ activity and provides hackers with sensitive information, such as login credentials.
In addition to the servers, Microsoft also shut down “hundreds” of websites it believed to be involved.
Microsoft’s crackdown affects only one specific botnet. The creators of the Zeus program have sold the code to other hackers, resulting in a multiplicity of Zeus botnets. The program is believed by Microsoft to have originated in Eastern Europe.
The crackdown was the result of an investigation by Microsoft’s in-house Digital Crimes Unit. The unit combines experts in the legal and technical aspects of Internet crime. Also, two associations within the financial services industry—the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the National Automated Clearing House Association—have been named co-plaintiffs in the civil suit filed by Microsoft. Microsoft received a court order allowing it to seize control of websites tied to botnets without prior notification of the owners.
The New York Times report can be found here.
As the amount of money exchanged on the Internet continues to grow, the stakes involved in cases of computer crime, such as identity theft and credit card fraud, will only increase. If you’ve been accused of a computer-related crime, you’ll need experienced, aggressive representation to protect your rights.