Tech Giant Microsoft has proven its ability and the efficacy of its consolidated ‘Digital Crimes Unit’ by taking down the largest ever network of compromised Personal Computers (PC) used to fraudulently click on ads.
Ever since initiating an organized counter-strike approach to cyber criminals and virtual crimes, Microsoft has successfully thwarted a sophisticated Virtual Network comprising of more than 2 Million PCs. The company orchestrated one of the largest synchronized counterattacks by filing a lawsuit in Texas. Through carefully coordinating its efforts, the company and won a judge’s order, directing internet service providers (ISP) to block all traffic to a total of 18 internet addresses (IP Address) that were used to direct fraudulent activity to the infected machines.
What exactly did Microsoft do?
ZeroAccess is a Digital Crime Ring. Essentially, it is team of hackers and malicious programmers spread across the world. ZeroAccess, believed to be majorly from Russia, specialized in what is commonly referred to as ‘Click Fraud’, wherein compromised PCs are remotely ordered to click on select advertisements. Obviously, all this happens without letting the owner of the PC know about the processes being executed. Hence the PCs are referred to a ‘Bots’ and the network or cluster of PCs is collectively referred to as a ‘Botnet’.
Such organized activities cheat advertisers on search engines including Microsoft’s Bing, by making them pay for digital interactions (Ad Clicks) that have no chance of ever leading to a sale. Microsoft suggested such vast organized Botnets are costing search engines about US$ 2.7 Million, monthly.
Through synchronized actions, Microsoft successfully identified and tactfully hunted down affected PCs and reached the source from where these compromised systems were getting their instructions. Usually Botnets are smart to convey instructions only to each other; but Microsoft was able to land on the exact enemy territory since these botnets were being asked to ‘check–in’ with one of the 18 IP addresses.
Digital crimes are a very real and omnipresent threat. Furthermore, with growing use of remote technologies, including cloud services, it is ever more important to stay on guard and keep your antivirus regularly updated to ensure your PC doesn’t fall prey.
Image Source | microsoft