Microsoft leads attack on search traffic thieves

Dec 06, 2013
Microsoft announced it worked with police in Europe and the United States to disrupt a "dangerous" army of virus-infected computers used to hijack searches at Google, Bing and Yahoo

Microsoft announced it worked with police in Europe and the United States to disrupt a "dangerous" army of virus-infected computers used to hijack searches at Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Microsoft's digital crimes unit teamed with Europol's European cybercrime centre, the FBI and tech industry allies to tackle a "Sirefef botnet" that commandeers search results and routes queries to websites rigged to infect computers with , steal information or make money from bogus online ad "clicks."

The botnet, or network of machines infected with a virus that lets hackers take command, is also referred to as ZeroAccess and is believed to have spread across nearly two million computers around the world.

Microsoft estimated the bogus online ad billing and stolen traffic cost advertisers about $2.7 million monthly.

"ZeroAccess targets all and browsers, including Google, Bing and Yahoo," Microsoft digital crimes unit assistant general counsel Richard Domingues Boscovich said in a blog post.

"ZeroAccess is one of the most robust and durable botnets in operation today, and was built to be resilient to disruption efforts, relying on a peer-to-peer infrastructure that allows cybercriminals to remotely control the botnet from tens of thousands of different computers," he continued.

People's computers typically become infected with ZeroAccess as a result of visiting websites booby-trapped with the malicious software, he said.

Due to the sophistication of the hacker network, Microsoft expected the legal and technical actions taken would significantly disrupt the operation but not wipe it out.

Efforts are being made to get word to people whose computers are infected, and Microsoft is providing virus removal information online at support..com/botnets.

Explore further: Microsoft's opens facility to crack down on cybercriminals

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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.

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

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

10 hours ago

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?

14 hours ago

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 ...

How much do we really know about privacy on Facebook?

16 hours ago

The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

16 hours ago

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 ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

Aug 21, 2014

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

Music site SoundCloud to start paying artists

Aug 21, 2014

SoundCloud said Thursday that it will start paying artists and record companies whose music is played on the popular streaming site, a move that will bring it in line with competitors such as YouTube and Spotify.

User comments : 0