According to a Feb. 7 report in the BBC, Microsoft and Symantec shut down a botnet that was making more than 1 million dollars a year for cybercriminals. This botnet was infecting millions of computers and stealing the identities of thousands of their users.
More than 8 million computers were attacked by the Bamital botnet, according to Richard Boscovich of Microsoft. A botnet is a computer network that is controlled by a criminal through a virus that he implanted in it.
This particular botnet exploited the online search and advertising platforms of the major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo). How? It would trick innocent users into clicking online advertising links which would take them to innocent looking sites that would steal information from them.
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Besides stealing information from a user, the botnet would also take over the user's computer and add it to the botnet so it could infect other computers. Users would be unaware that the botnet infected their machine and made it part of its network. Microsoft and Symantec believe that this botnet infected between 300,000 and one million machines by the time it was shut down.
Richard Boscovich writes in The Official Microsoft Blog:
Taking down the Bamital botnet is the first step in protecting people....Owners of infected computers trying to complete a search query will now be directed to an official Microsoft and Symantec webpage that explains the problem and provides information and resources to remove the Bamital infection and other malware from their computer.
This is the sixth illegal botnet shut down in the past three years.