Friday, December 06, 2013

Microsoft's Cybercrime Center Works with FBI to Combat Malware

Malware called the Sirefef botnet (aka ZeroAccess) recently targeted search results on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo in an attempt to steal money from online advertising companies. ZeroAccess only affects devices running Windows and it does so by hijacking search results and downloading malware onto infected systems. Almost 2 million computers were infected, which clicked on as many as 48 ads an hour. Even though it is technically a robot doing the clicking, advertisers are paying fees for fake clicks. Microsoft says the attack has been estimated to cost advertisers $2.7 million each month.

Now, Microsoft is working with both the FBI and the agency's European counterpart, European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), to disrupt the botnet malware. As of today, they reported it has been 'successfully disrupted.' Adding that, "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."

In an earlier press release, Microsoft cited research done by the University of California, San Diego. This research found that 1.9 million computers were infected with ZeroAccess in October and more than 800,000 ZeroAccess infected computers are active on the Internet every day. In a related statement, FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely said, “If the hacker community has not yet taken notice, today’s disruption of the ZeroAccess botnet is another example of the power of public-private partnerships. It demonstrates our commitment to expand coordination with companies like Microsoft and our foreign law enforcement partners — in this case, Europol — to shut down malicious cyberattacks and hold cybercriminals accountable for exploiting our citizens’ and businesses’ computers.”

For more information on Microsoft's Cybercrime Center, watch this video interview with Microsoft's Assistant General Counsel Richard Boscovich.