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Microsoft helps the Feds take down Rustock spambot network

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Rustock, purveyor of more e-mail spam than any other network in the world, was felled last week by Microsoft and federal law enforcement agents.

A lawsuit by Microsoft that was unsealed at the company’s request late today triggered several coordinated raids last Wednesday that took down Rustock, a botnet that infected millions of computers with malicious code in order to turn them into a massive spam-sending network.

This botnet is estimated to have approximately a million infected computers operating under its control and has been known to be capable of sending billions of spam mails every day,” Richard Boscovich, senior attorney in the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, wrote in a blog post today.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that it was Microsoft’s digital crimes unit, working in concert with U.S. marshals, that raided seven hosting facilities across the country and seized the command-and-control machines that ran the network. Those are the servers that send instructions to the fleet of infected computers to dish out spam messages hawking such items as phony lottery scams and fake and potentially dangerous prescription drugs.The takedown was known internally as Operation b107.

Shutting down Rustock could put a huge dent in spam worldwide. Tech security giant Symantec estimated last year that Rustock was responsible for 39 percent of the world’s spam. Global spam levels dropped 12 percent after Dutch authorities took down a Trojan horse named Bredolab last November.

Rock on, Microsoft. Cleaning up the ethically-diseased flavor of hacker is always worthwhile.

No doubt there will be a new rationale for script kiddies – or the occasional “honest” crook – who will rejoin the scumsuckers of spam. Their relationship to ordinary folks who simply wish to avail themselves of modern communications will continue to be parasitic.

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Written by Ed Campbell

March 18, 2011 at 10:00 am

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