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Microsoft and Federal agents shut down spam network

Microsoft and federal law agents have managed to seize equipment from Internet hosting facilities across America in the efforts to stop junk email being sent across the internet.

Microsoft have launched these raids as part of a civil lawsuit which was filed in federal court in Seattle last month against the Rustock ‘botnet’. This is a vast network of computer systems across the world which is infected with malicious software to help the source system send out massive amounts of spam from enlargement pills to weight loss tablets.

Microsoft have been acting aggressively against this plague that causes so many issues for individuals and businesses. Spam can cause email servers to work extremely hard, and in cases fall over from the load. It can also ruin the overall enjoyment of using various operating systems and software packages such as Microsoft Office. Malicious code can also target software packages to form spam botnets.

US Marshalls accompanied the Microsoft digital crimes unit employees into Internet hosting facilities in various locations, such as Chicago, Seattle and Ohio to claim the computers. These computers were apparently ‘command and control’ machines, used to control over a million computers across the globe.

Company executives have said that this action will severely damage the infected control system, leaving the infected machines outside the facilities in a harmless state. The Rustock botnet is the biggest source of spam in the world, accounting for almost half of all spam generated globally, according to Symantec.

“We think this has been 100% effective,” said Richard Boscovich, senior attorney in Microsoft’s digital crimes unit.

Microsoft claim to have confiscated dozens of hard drives and computers from the hosting providers as part of the raid. A lot of the equipment was leased from customers outside the US with even a few addresses listed in Azerbaijan.

This is the second time that Microsoft have used legal powers to target botnet computers, the first being the Waledac botnet in February 2010.

Kitguru says: We can only hope that they continue to target these botnets, the scourge of the internet.

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