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Bot herder websites that specialise in dumbing down the process of managing zombie networks of compromised Windows PCs are under attack. High profile bot sites such as ryan1918.com and 0x90-team.com have disappeared, reports anti-virus firm F-Secure. Another such site, known as "Neo, The One" (neo-theone.com.ar), which was hosted in Argentina, went offline on Friday (9 September).

Authorities are clearly turning up the heat on such sites, but the fight is far from over. Mikko Hyppönen, director of anti-virus research at Finnish anti-virus firm F-Secure, explained that so-called bot herder websites come and go all the time. "These websites specialise in distributing source code and tools for malicious bots and botnets. They provide a web interface with point and click controls that allows even clueless people to manage zombie networks."

"Some bot distribution sites have started to charge money for downloading source code of bots," he added. Hyppönen said bot herder sites are normally short-lived, tending to disappear as soon as authorities get wind of them. Delivering botnet management as a hosted application is relatively new but the trade in compromised PCs among denizens of the digital underground has been taking place for around two years. The use of sites such as 0x90-team.com to download components for recent MyTob worm increased their profile and arguably hastened their demise. ®

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