NPR : News

Filed Under:

Microsoft, FBI Say They've Disrupted $500 Million Botnet

Working jointly with the FBI, Microsoft says it has disrupted a botnet responsible for stealing more than $500 million from bank accounts worldwide.

In a blog post published late last night, Microsoft said this was its "most agressive botnet operation to date" and the "first time that law enforcement and the private sector have worked together" to "execute a civil seizure warrant as part of a botnet disruption operation."

In English, what happened here is that about 5 million computers worldwide were infected with a program that recorded the passwords of bank accounts online. The so-called Citadel botnet — one of the largest known in the world — then sent the credentials to a network controlled by criminals. Using the passwords, they were able to take funds from the accounts.

According to Reuters, which broke the story, thieves were able to steal from dozens of banks, including "American Express, Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, eBay's PayPal, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo."

What Microsoft and the FBI did was seize some servers central to the botnet, therefore disrupting communication with about 1,400 of those nodes.

Reuters explains:

"While the criminals remain at large and the authorities do not know the identities of any ringleaders, the internationally coordinated take-down dealt a significant blow to their cyber capabilities.

"'The bad guys will feel the punch in the gut,' said Richard Domingues Boscovich, assistant general counsel with Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit."

The BBC reports that Microsoft has begun a lawsuit against the anonymous ringleader, who the company believes is based in Eastern Europe and nicknamed "Aquabox."

"In addition, the FBI is working with Europol and police forces in many other countries to track down and identify the 81 'lieutenants' that helped Aquabox keep Citadel running," the BBC reports.

Another thing worth noting is that some of the malware came with pirated versions of the Windows operating system.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Book Review: 'Kinder Than Solitude'

Ellah Allfrey reviews Kinder Than Solitude, by Yiyun Li.
NPR

On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow: A Guide To Speedy Vegetables

Impatient gardeners don't have to wait for summer to harvest salad fixings. A surprising variety of crops will bring homegrown produce to your table in as little as three weeks.
WAMU 88.5

To Replace Rep. Jim Moran, Virginia Democrats Raking In Big Bucks

The race has opened the door to an epic primary season that had 13 Democrats formally announcing their candidacy.
NPR

When Parents Are The Ones Too Distracted By Devices

Parents often complain that smartphones keep their kids distracted from conversation. What happens when it's the other way around, when kids can't get their smartphone-glued parents' attention?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.