FBI, Carnegie Mellon Identify 1 MM BotNet Nodes

The FBI and Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) have identified the IP addresses of more than 1 million zombie computers throughout the United States as a part of security sweep nicknamed "Operation Bot Roast."

Zombies are computers that are unwitting hosts for the activities of bots, pieces of malicious software that are often used to facilitate crimes.

The CERT and FBI are currently notifying owners of the computers, during which time they hope to uncover additional evidence of criminal botnet activity. Armies of bots, or botnets, are used to facilitate crimes such as identity theft, denial of service attacks, phishing, click fraud, and the mass distribution of spam, adware, and spyware.

James Finch, the FBI's assistant director for the cyber division, said most victims of botnets "are not even aware that their computer has been compromised or their personal information exploited.... An attacker gains control by infecting the computer with a virus or other malicious code and the computer continues to operate normally."

The FBI thanked Microsoft Corp. for brining criminal botnets to its attention, as well as the International Botnet Task Force, a worldwide coalition of public and private sector computer security specialists.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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