Microsoft and Europol have teamed up to successfully close the ZeroAccess botnet that hijacked PCs across the world and essentially turned them into zombies.
The operators of the large-scale, infamous Sirefef botnet, also known has ZeroAccess botnet, have thrown in the towel on their operation, including the word “WHITE FLAG” in their final update.
Earlier in the month, Microsoft opened up a legal case against botnet operators in a U.S. District Court, which was enough to scare them into submission. Europol’s European Cyber Center (EC3) also played an integral part in helping Microsoft bust the botnet, as the malware has continued to evolve after being in the wild since 2009.
The botnet originally started as a method for cyber criminals to spread malware, but slowly modified into a lucrative click fraud service.
“The cybercriminals’ decision to halt their activities underscores how effective partnerships are in the fight against cybercrime,” said Richard Domingues, Assistant General Counsel of the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, in a blog post. “Microsoft’s partnerships with EC3 was crucial to the success of this disruption. In turn, EC3’s coordination with member-state law enforcement agencies like BKA in Germany and the National Hi Tech Crime Units from the Netherlands, Latvia, Switzerland and Luxembourg demonstrates the need for international cross-jurisdictional cooperation at a speed equal to the criminal cyber threats affecting people globally.”
This is a major victory for Microsoft and its allies that worked tirelessly to try and shut down the ZeroAccess botnet – security experts only wanted to try and limit the botnet’s effectiveness, while providing better malware protection for users.
Despite the successful closure of ZeroAccess, cyber criminals will continue to hone their skills when developing a new future threat.