Microsoft teamed up with Symantec to take down a nasty malware affecting thousands upon thousands of PCs. Bamital botnet hijacked people's search experiences and redirected victims to potentially dangerous sites that could leave them vulnerable to other online threats and steal their personal information.
Experts from the organizations obtained a court order and shut down servers at a data center in New Jersey and convinced operators in Virginia to shut down a server they control in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
The Bamital botnet threatened the US$12.7 billion online advertising industry by generating fraudulent clicks on Internet ads. Microsoft's research shows that Bamital hijacked more than 8 million computers over the past two years. Microsoft says that the botnet affected many major search engines and browsers including Bing, Yahoo, and Google offerings.
Bamital's organizers also had the ability to take control of infected PCs, installing other types of computer viruses that could engage in identity theft, recruit PCs into networks that attack websites and conduct other types of computer crimes.
Now that the servers have been shut down, users of infected PCs will be directed to a site informing them that their machines are infected with malicious software when they attempt to search the web.
It was the sixth time that Microsoft has obtained a court order to disrupt a botnet since 2010. Botnets are an increasing problem for security firms and computer users alike.
Their complaint identified 18 "John Doe" ringleaders, scattered from Russia and Romania to Britain, the United States and Australia, who registered websites and rented servers used in the operation under fictitious names.