Feeds

Microsoft turns screws on bot herders with hefty reward

$250,000 for arrest of notorious Rustock operators

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Microsoft is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who controlled Rustock, a recently dismantled botnet that in its heyday was one of the biggest sources of illegal spam.

Monday's announcement of the bounty comes four months after Microsoft waged a novel campaign to take down Rustock, which enslaved an estimated 1 million PCs. The number of infected machines has been cut in half since that time, and Microsoft has already taken out ads in Russian newspapers in an attempt to track down the operators of the notorious botnet.

Now Microsoft is redoubling those efforts with the promise of the hefty quarter-million dollar bounty to anyone who can help Microsoft and law enforcement officials identify and catch the perps.

“This reward offer stems from Microsoft’s recognition that the Rustock botnet is responsible for a number of criminal activities and serves to underscore our commitment to tracking down those behind it,” Richard Boscovich, a senior attorney in the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit, wrote in a blog post. “While the primary goal for our legal and technical operation has been to stop and disrupt the threat that Rustock has posed for everyone affected by it, we also believe the Rustock bot-herders should be held accountable for their actions.”

According to Microsoft, Rustock was at times capable of sending 30 billion spam messages per day. Among other things, it pitched discounted pharmaceutical drugs that were fakes or unlicensed, posing a hazard to those who used them.

The March takedown of the botnet wielded court orders that allowed authorities to seize servers at five hosting providers that were used to administer the sophisticated botnet. Although the IP addresses hardwired into the underlying malware have been severed, hundreds of thousands of infected PCs have yet to be cleaned, Boscovich said.

The Rustock takedown came a little more than a year after Microsoft used similar tactics to dismantle another notorious botnet known as Waledac. In April, federal authorities borrowed many of the same techniques to shut down the Coreflood botnet. The Coreflood takedown went even further by giving the feds legal permission to establish a substitute control channel that temporarily disabled the underlying malware running on hundreds of thousands of infected end-user computers.

A PDF of Microsoft's official notice is here.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.