Microsoft Along With FBI & EC3 Shattered The Notorious ZeroAccess Botnet

Microsoft Along With FBI & EC3 Shattered The Notorious ZeroAccess Botnet Responsible For Infecting More Than 2 Million Computers
Redmond based software giant Microsoft yet again got a huge success against a big racket of cyber criminals while shattering one of the world's largest and most rampant botnets named 'ZeroAccess'. The Sirefef botnet, also known as ZeroAccess, is responsible for infecting more than 2 million computers, specifically targeting search results on Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines, and is estimated to cost online advertisers $2.7 million each month. Tech giant Microsoft working alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) have successfully disrupted this notorious botnet. This is Microsoft’s first botnet action since the Nov. 14 unveiling of its new Cybercrime Center — a center of excellence for advancing the global fight against cyber crime — and marks the company’s eighth botnet operation in the past three years.

“This operation marks an important step in coordinated actions that are initiated by private companies and, at the same time, enable law enforcement agencies around Europe to identify and investigate the criminal organizations and networks behind these dangerous botnets that use malicious software to gain illicit profits,” said Troels Oerting, head of the EC3. “EC3 added its expertise, information communications technology infrastructure and analytic capability, as well as provided the platform for high-level cooperation between cyber crime units in five European countries and Microsoft.”
Due to its botnet architecture, ZeroAccess is one of the most robust and durable botnets in operation today and was built to be resilient to disruption efforts, relying on a peer-to-peer infrastructure that allows cyber criminals to remotely control the botnet from tens of thousands of different computers. ZeroAccess is used to commit a slew of crimes, including search hijacking, which “hijacks” people’s search results and redirects people to sites they had not intended or requested to go to in order to steal the money generated by their ad clicks. ZeroAccess also commits click fraud, which occurs when advertisers pay for clicks that are not the result of legitimate, interested human users’ clicks, but are the result of automated Web traffic and other criminal activity. Research by the University of California, San Diego shows that as of October 2013, 1.9 million computers were infected with ZeroAccess, and Microsoft determined there were more than 800,000 ZeroAccess-infected computers active on the Internet on any given day.

How It Happened:- 
Last week, Microsoft filed a civil suit against the cyber criminals operating the ZeroAccess botnet and received authorization from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to simultaneously block incoming and outgoing communications between computers located in the U.S. and the 18 identified Internet Protocol (IP) addresses being used to commit the fraudulent schemes. In addition, Microsoft took over control of 49 domains associated with the ZeroAccess botnet. A10 Networks provided Microsoft with advanced technology to support the disruptive action.
As Microsoft executed the order filed in its civil case, Europol coordinated a multijurisdictional criminal action targeting the 18 IP addresses located in Europe. Specifically, Europol worked with Latvia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany to execute search warrants and seizures on computer servers associated with the fraudulent IP addresses located in Europe. This is the second time in six months that Microsoft and law enforcement have worked together to successfully disrupt a prevalent botnet. It demonstrates the value coordinated operations have against cyber criminal enterprises. For more information about this botnet operation click here

ZeroAccess is counted as a very sophisticated malware, blocking attempts to remove it, therefore recommended for every Microsoft user to click Here for detailed instructions on how to remove this threat. As Microsoft found that the ZeroAccess malware disables security features on infected computers, leaving the computer susceptible to secondary infections, it is critical that victims rid their computers of ZeroAccess by using malware removal or antivirus software as quickly as possible. 
In conversation with press David Finn, executive director and associate general counsel of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit said -“Microsoft is committed to working collaboratively — with our customers, partners, academic experts and law enforcement — to combat cybercrime. And we’ll do everything we can to protect computer users from the sinister activities and criminal networks that victimize innocent people and businesses around the world.” 

While talking about ZeroAccess botnet take down, I would like to remind you that in Match, last year Microsoft has successfully shutdown two command and control (C&C) server of world's of the most dangerous banking trojan Zeus.


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