Bot herders beware: the feds are now on your tail.
The United States FBI launched June 13 a nationwide initiative to go after bot herders and put them behind bars. Bot herders are believed to have the capability to do any or all of the following once a botnet, or a collection of compromised computer systems, are under their command and control: steal a user’s identity, spam large volumes of messages, commit click fraud, and launch denial of service (DoS) attacks.
Because ongoing investigations peg potential victims at over 1 million users, botnets are now a matter of national security, and an actual threat to the national information infrastructure and the economy. The operation has so far apprehended three people.
Working closely with industry partners like the CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University, the FBI is hopeful that more bot masters will fold as the operation progresses. The Bureau also advised against calling them directly as they are “not in a position to provide technical assistance.” Instead, they recommend for users (who suspect their systems have been compromised) to contact their ISPs first because they “can help you determine if your computer has been infected, and what steps to take to restore it.” Affected users may choose to file a complaint online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Lastly, they warned against phishing attempts that could be made by dubious parties; they made it clear that they would not contact anyone to ask for personal information online.
More information about the operation is available in this page.