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Microsoft Takes Down A Large Botnet Called Rustock

Internet bots are software applications that run automated tasks over the web. Bots are useful because they perform simple and repetitive tasks at a much faster rate than human input. Unfortunately, as with many things in life, there are people who use bots with ill intentions. For example, spam bots can be used to collect e-mail addresses from internet forums. Bots can also be used for DDoS(Distributed Denial of Service) attacks, which flood the bandwidth of entire systems. There are also Botnets that work together to distribute malicious software.

Microsoft has taken down a very large and complex botnet, called Rustock. It has been estimated that this botnet consisted of approximately one million infected computers and is known to send billions of spam mails on a daily basis, including fake Microsoft lottery scams and fake prescription drugs.

Senior Attorney Richard Boscovich states that “The Rustock botnet was officially taken offline yesterday, after a months-long investigation by DCU and our partners, successful pleading before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and a coordinated seizure of command and control servers in multiple hosting locations escorted by the U.S. Marshals Service.”

How much of a threat was Rustock? Being one of the world’s largest spambots, Rustock was capable of sending 30 Billion spam e-mails per day. Researchers have seen a single Rustock-infected computer send 7,500 spam emails in 45 minutes, as well as advertising counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

If you think your computer might be infected, Microsoft urges you to visit support.microsoft.com/botnets for free information on malware and resources to clean your computer.

To learn more about botnets, check out the video below.

Photo Courtesy of Amit Chattopadhyay
Photo Courtesy of Ben Lakey