Hacker 'botnet' hijacked online searches

Feb 07, 2013
Software titan Microsoft and computer security giant Symantec said Thursday that they smashed a hacker-infected computer network that was hijacking Internet searches.

Software titan Microsoft and computer security giant Symantec said Thursday that they smashed a hacker-infected computer network that was hijacking Internet searches.

A Bamital "" raked in an estimated million dollars annually by routing Internet users to websites that generated revenue with bogus online ad "clicks."

"The Bamital botnet defrauded the entire online advertising platform, which is what allows the Internet and many online services to be free," Microsoft said in a blog post.

"What's most concerning is that these made people go to sites that they never intended to go and took control of the computer away from its owner."

Along with generating fraudulent clicks for which advertisers paid, the hackers sent Internet users to websites that could sneak malicious code onto machines or steal personal information, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft and Symantec research found that during the past two years, more than eight were attacked by Bamital and that the scheme targeted popular search services and browser programs.

Symantec said it has tracked the botnet since late 2009 and joined forces with Microsoft to shut down the operation.

"Bamital is just one of many botnets that utilize click fraud for and to foster other cybercrime activities," Symantec said in a blog post.

"Many of the attackers behind these schemes feel they are low risk as many users are unaware that their computers are being used for these activities."

Bamital is part of a family of designed to highjack and route Internet users to hacker-controlled servers, which then re-direct traffic to other websites, according to Symantec.

Bamital has been spread with "drive-by downloads" of malicious code at booby-trapped websites and by infected files downloaded from peer-to-peer sharing networks, Symantec said.

Microsoft and Symantec engineers, armed with a federal court order, went to two US data centers on Wednesday and shut down servers believed to be controlling the Bamital botnet.

"Microsoft and Symantec chose to take action against the Bamital botnet to help protect people and advance cloud security for everyone," Microsoft said.

The companies were notifying people whose machines might be infected with the malicious code and a free "power eraser" tool was available online at norton.com/bamital.

Explore further: Twitter blocks two accounts on its Turkish network

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Symantec urges users to disable pcAnywhere

Jan 26, 2012

Symantec is recommending that users of its pcAnywhere software disable the product following the theft of source code from the US computer security firm.

Hackers pick Google's pocket with Mac virus

May 01, 2012

A virus infecting Macintosh computers is picking Google's pocket by hijacking advertising "clicks," tallying as much as $10,000 daily, according to Internet security firm Symantec.

Microsoft busts spam network

Sep 27, 2011

Microsoft on Tuesday said it struck another blow in its battle against cyber crooks by busting a spam-sending network of virus-infected computers.

Recommended for you

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

Apr 18, 2014

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

Apr 18, 2014

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

Apr 18, 2014

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

frajo
1 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2013
I don't think this is of any relevance to Linux, eCS, and BSD users.

More news stories

Students take clot-buster for a spin

(Phys.org) —In the hands of some Rice University senior engineering students, a fishing rod is more than what it seems. For them, it's a way to help destroy blood clots that threaten lives.

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

First steps towards "Experimental Literature 2.0"

As part of a student's thesis, the Laboratory of Digital Humanities at EPFL has developed an application that aims at rearranging literary works by changing their chapter order. "The human simulation" a saga ...