Court Approves Microsoft Action Against Waledac Botnet

In an unusual move, a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, granted a request from software giant Microsoft for an ex parte temporary restraining order to deactivate some 277 Internet domains used in the command-and-control infrastructure of the Waledac botnet, which is estimated to have infected more than 75,000 computers worldwide and generate untold millions of spam messages. Pursuant to the order, Network Solutions shut down the domains, in theory cutting off numerous Waledac-infected computers from the cybercriminals and scammers controlling them remotely. The unusual order was carried out without any attempt to inform the “John Does” to which is was being applied; of course, that surprise factor is the only thing that lets such a domain shutdown be effective: with warning, the crooks would just migrate the botnet to new domains.

court approves microsoft action against waledac botnet infection map

“The takedown of the Waledac botnet that Microsoft executed this week—known internally as “Operation b49″—was the result of months of investigation and the innovative application of a tried and true legal strategy,” wrote Microsoft associate general counsel Tim Cranton in the official Microsoft blog. Microsoft describes Waledac as one of the ten largest botnets in the United States, and said from December 3 to 21 of 2009 Waledoc-infected machines pointed Microsoft’s Hotmail email service with more than 650 million spam messages.

The legal action against the operators of the Waledac botnet is the first of its kind, and Microsoft promises it won’t be the last. However, the ex parte nature of the action may begin to establish a legal precedent that it’s OK to order domains to be taken offline so long someone can convince a judge such an action has concrete benefits to consumers and businesses. As part of its complaint (PDF), Microsoft highlighted damages being done to Internet users around the world by the Waledac botnet, as well as the expense and lost productivity companies have faced trying to deal with Waledac spam and infections.

Image: Waledac infections around the world during a recent 24-hour period. (Microsoft)

Computing

Smishing sounds funny, but it’s a serious threat to your phone’s security

We all know phishing is a huge security problem, but most people still believe it’s a problem limited to email. According to new reports, however, phishing scams are attempting to exploit your trust in text messages.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Hacker infects 100K routers in latest botnet attack aimed at sending email spam

An attacker is trying to infect your router with malware in order to send spam emails. If your router uses a Broadcom UPnP SDK, it could become vulnerable to this attack. So far, 100,000 routers worldwide have been infected.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Computing

Should you buy the affordable MacBook Air, or is the MacBook Pro worth the price?

Though they both share Retina Displays and similar keyboards, there are still some specs differences and other changes which distinguish the new 2018 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. In this guide, we stack the two up against each other.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Computing

After a month of bugs, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update is finally here

After more thoroughly investigating and resolving all bugs and related issues, Microsoft is announcing the Windows 10 October 2018 is again rolling out to consumers starting today, November 13. 
Computing

Installing fonts in Windows 10 is quick and easy -- just follow these steps

Want to know how to install fonts in Windows 10? Here's our guide on two easy ways to get the job done, no matter how many you want to add to your existing catalog, plus instructions for deleting fonts in the process.
Computing

Changing file associations in Windows 10 is quick and easy with these steps

Learning how to change file associations can make editing certain file types much quicker than manually selecting your preferred application every time you open them. Just follow these short steps and you'll be on your way in no time.
Emerging Tech

New simulation shows how Elon Musk’s internet satellite network might work

Elon Musk has the dream of building a network for conveying internet traffic via thousands of satellites. A new simulation created by a computer scientist looks at how feasible the idea is.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.
Computing

These are the 5 best free antivirus apps to protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as picking from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.