Microsoft takes down major fake drug spam network

Mar 18, 2011
Microsoft on Thursday announced the dismantling of a "notorious and complex" network of virus-infected computers used to send billions of email messages daily hawking fake drugs.

Microsoft on Thursday announced the dismantling of a "notorious and complex" network of virus-infected computers used to send billions of email messages daily hawking fake drugs.

The Rustock "" consisted of about a million computers that were infected with to let hackers covertly control the machines from afar using "command and control" servers.

Owners of infected computers are typically not aware that hackers are using their machines.

"Bot-herders infect computers with in a number of ways, such as when a computer owner visits a website booby-trapped with malware and clicks on a malicious advertisement or opens an infected email attachment," said Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit senior attorney Richard Boscovich.

"Bot-herders do this so discretely that owners often never suspect their PC (personal computer) is living a double life."

Rustock was reported to be among the world's largest spam botnets and was capable of sending as many as 30 billion emails per day.

Much of the email sent by Rustock advertised counterfeit or unapproved knock-off versions of drugs like Viagra, while other spam tried to dupe people with bogus Microsoft lottery notices, according to Boscovich.

Microsoft worked with Viagra-maker Pfizer and network security firm FireEye during a months-long investigation that culminated with using US warrants to seize "command and control" servers in the western state of Washington.

Rustock was knocked offline on Wednesday when the connection was severed between infected computers and the machines used to give them orders, according to Boscovich.

Evidence seized was being analyzed for clues about the hackers and their operations. Microsoft was offering tools at support.microsoft.com/botnets to purge the malware from .

Explore further: Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft uses law to cripple hacker spam network

Feb 25, 2010

Microsoft on Thursday said it combined technology with an "extraordinary" legal maneuver to cripple a massive network of hacked computers that had been flooding the Internet with spam.

Spam down but 'zombie' armies growing: McAfee

May 07, 2009

Hackers appear to be beefing up armies of "zombie" computers to recover from a major hit scored in the battle against spam email, according to software security firm McAfee.

Huge 'botnet' amputated, but criminals reconnect

Mar 11, 2010

(AP) -- The sudden takedown of an Internet provider thought to be helping spread one of the most promiscuous pieces of malicious software out there appears to have cut off criminals from potentially millions of personal ...

Recommended for you

Study: Social media users shy away from opinions

Aug 26, 2014

People on Facebook and Twitter say they are less likely to share their opinions on hot-button issues, even when they are offline, according to a surprising new survey by the Pew Research Center.

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

Aug 23, 2014

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

Aug 22, 2014

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

Aug 22, 2014

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

Aug 22, 2014

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jamesrm
5 / 5 (2) Mar 18, 2011
"Bot-herders infect computers with malware in a number of ways, such as when a computer owner" uses a microsoft product

rgds
jms
frajo
not rated yet Mar 19, 2011
Much of the email sent by Rustock advertised counterfeit or unapproved knock-off versions of drugs
They don't send spam just for fun; they are being paid.
As long as the sponsors of spam are not going to be punished the plague will continue unabashed.