Microsoft And FBI Take Down Malicious Botnet Named Citadel

Microsoft And FBI Take Down Malicious Botnet Named Citadel. Microsoft, working along with the FBI and 80 authorities from across the world, took down the vast majority of computers that were part of a malicious botnet network known as "Citadel."

The Citadel botnets were one of the biggest cyber crime rings, allegedly responsible for stealing more than $500 million from the bank accounts of more than 5 million infected computers over the past 18 months. The network was made of at least 1,400 botnets, which are an army of infected computers used by hackers to exfiltrate data, attack other computers and commit other types of cybercrimes.

The FBI issued a report this week on the rising use of botnets, which are groups of infected computers controlled by cybercriminals. Criminals can infect a huge network of computers numbering in the hundreds of thousands or even millions and then each computer is connected to a command & control server operated by the criminal.Botnets can be used to distribute spam, malware and assist with organized crime and terrorist activities, said the FBI.

The "bad guys" behind Citadel, however, are still unknown . Authorities believe the hackers behind Citadel reside in Eastern Europe. Their ring leader allegedly goes by the name of Aquabox and works with at least 81 other conspirators.

The Citadel malware was mainly spread via pirated versions of Microsoft Windows. Once the virus infected a computer, it stole banking credentials and used those to syphon money from some of the World's largest banking institutions like Bank of America, HSBC, Wells Fargo and other financial companies such as Paypal or American Express.

The botnets were mainly located within the United States, but also in Western Europe, Hong Kong, India and Australia. 

Microsoft's team of digital detectives, who are based at corporate headquarters in Redmond, Washington, have been involved in seven efforts to attack botnets since 2010. Wednesday's marked its first collaboration with the FBI.

The software maker sought help from the FBI about 10 days ago. At that time the agency told Microsoft that it had already done significant work on a criminal probe into the Citadel Botnets, the FBI's McFeely said.

Microsoft said it and the FBI are working with law enforcement and other organizations in countries including: Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

More than 1,000 numbers of botnets that were shut down on Wednesday, Microsoft said 455 were hosted in 40 data centers in the United States. The rest were located in dozens of countries overseas.

Source: Reuters

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