Microsoft takes down major fake drug spam network

March 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: Bogus security software growing threat: Microsoft

Related Stories

Spam down but 'zombie' armies growing: McAfee

May 7, 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.

Microsoft uses law to cripple hacker spam network

February 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.

Huge 'botnet' amputated, but criminals reconnect

March 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

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

Smallest 3-D camera offers brain surgery innovation

August 28, 2015

To operate on the brain, doctors need to see fine details on a small scale. A tiny camera that could produce 3-D images from inside the brain would help surgeons see more intricacies of the tissue they are handling and lead ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

2 comments

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.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.