Microsoft: ZeroAccess Malware Operator Disrupted From Stealing Info

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 05:29 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Microsoft and multinational law enforcement agencies have disrupted ZeroAccess, one of the globe's largest malware operators that steals information from unsuspecting computer users.

BBC News wrote that ZeroAccess has infected 2 millions computers worldwide by hijacking web search results and redirecting users to potentially dangerous sites to steal their information. ZeroAccess also creates fake ad clicks on infected computers then claims payouts from fooled advertisers.

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ZeroAccess, also known as Sirefef botnet, has cost online advertisers roughly $2.7 million per month, reported BBC News.

"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," Microsoft said, according to BBC News. Microsoft said its work is "expected to significantly disrupt the botnet's operation, increasing the cost and risk for cyber criminals to continue doing business and preventing victims' computers from committing fraudulent schemes."

Microsoft filed a civil suit against the ZeroAccess botnet operators last week, getting legal authorization to block communications between U.S. computers and the IP addresses of 18 computers located in Europe and identified as involved in perpetrating in alleged illegal activities.

Microsoft also took control of nearly 50 domains associated with ZeroAccess. At the same time, Europol executed a multi-country search-and-seizure action against the servers associated with those 18 IP addresses.

"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," FBI executive assistant director Richard McFeely in a statement obtained by Time magazine.

"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," McFeely continued.

ZeroAccess botnets rely on communication between groups of infected computers, instead of being controlled by a handful of servers, allowing cyber criminals to remotely control the botnet from a range of computers.

That ability of working off infected computers made ZeroAccess agents difficult to pinpoint.

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