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Microsoft turns up the heat on Internet scammers!

Posted on: 29th September 2011
by Lisa Ovenden

Microsoft has stepped up its ongoing battle against Internet scammers, by once again using the power of the U.S. court to dealing a blow to an emerging ‘botnet’ and taking off line a provider of free Internet domains.

Microsoft used the same method that had worked in previous battle against Rustock and Waledac botnets. They asked a U.S. court to order Verisign to shut down 21 Internet domains that were associated with the servers that formed the brains of the Kelihos botnet.

The Kelihos botnet infected between 42,000 and 45,000 computers, which is a relatively small botnet however it was still distributing just under 4 billion spam messages every day, the majority of which were junk email’s related to stock scams, pornography, illegal pharmaceuticals and malicious software.

Technically, the botnet looked a lot like the previously tackled Waledac, and some security experts think it may have been built by the same criminals.

The concept of a highly disruptive botnet that Microsoft had previously shut down in 2010 resurfacing under a different name, was not something that sat well within Microsoft's digital crimes unit. They felt compelled to take it down quickly to minimize, damage, and to make a point to other criminals that once a botnet was eradicated, it stayed that way, a point they feel has been effectively made.

Microsoft went further in the fight against reoccurring botnet’s by naming one of the domain owners, Dominique Piatti owned and ran out of The Czech Republic a domain that had multiple issues. Malicious sites on Piatti’s domain had previously been used to trick Macintosh users into thinking they needed to buy a fake security program, called MacDefender.

The order came from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division on Sept. 22 but it was sealed until Monday 26, and Piatti was served with a court summons in the case by Microsoft lawyers in the Czech Republic.

Security experts say that many subdomain hosting companies, which usually offer free domain-name registration, have opened up a lawless frontier of flood gates on the Internet where nearly anything goes. Making the internet a very dangerous place for those that do no have their whit’s about them, however a lot of time and effort goes into botnet’s making them look as genuine and safe as possible.

The only comment that Piatti was able to put on record was via email: " I would be glad to give you my side of the story, but I feel that I should hire a lawyer first,".

There is a bright side, and a positive message to come from this, the reassuring feeling that a leader such as Microsoft is taking a zeros tolerance approach, perhaps other companies will take heed and we can tackle internet crime together.