Skip to main content

Microsoft, FBI aim to rescue those hit by ZeroAccess malware

Microsoft HQ 2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Microsoft has apparently been stepping up efforts to channel its inner Batman as of late.

Redmond, the FBI and its European counterpart have partnered up to combat malware by the name of ZeroAccess, or Sirefef, which has infiltrated more than two million computers. Though the efforts of the trio won’t remove the malware itself, the incidents of fraud perpetrated by the malware and its operators should decline considerably. ZeroAccess has stolen roughly $2.7 million from online advertisers, its main prey, on a monthly basis. 

Here’s some background on ZeroAccess. ZeroAccess is part of a botnet that redirects people who use Google, Yahoo or Bing for search, to search results that are tainted. The blighted links swipe money created by ad clicks, while also auto-creating traffic which compels people to click on more ads, taking more money out of the coffers of advertisers.

Disrupting the botnet network won’t be easy, though, according to a statement Microsoft made on the matter.

“Due to its botnet architecture, ZeroAccess is one of the most robust and durable botnets in operation today and was built to be resilient to disruption efforts.” Microsoft also said that ZeroAccess leans “on a peer-to-peer infrastructure that allows cybercriminals to remotely control the botnet from tens of thousands of different computers.”

As part of the actions they have taken to combat ZeroAccess, Microsoft has filed a civil suit against its handlers, has been granted permission by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to stonewall communication between computers that have been used to contribute to the efforts of ZeroAccess and its masters, and has seized 49 domains thought to be affiliated with ZeroAccess and its operators. 

It’ll be interesting to see whether Microsoft’s efforts will be successful or not. In the interim, make sure your anti-virus, firewall and malware scanning programs are running and up to date.

Editors' Recommendations

Konrad Krawczyk
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Konrad covers desktops, laptops, tablets, sports tech and subjects in between for Digital Trends. Prior to joining DT, he…
New phishing method looks just like the real thing, but it steals your passwords
A MacBook with Google Chrome loaded.

Thanks to a new phishing method, hackers could steal all sorts of personal information by simply mimicking real login forms in Application Mode. This is a feature that's available in all Chromium-based browsers, which includes Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Brave.

Using Application Mode allows threat actors to spread highly believable-looking local login forms that look like desktop applications. In reality, all inputs are sent to a malicious attacker.

Read more
Hackers can now sneak malware into the GIFs you share
A video call in progress on Microsoft Teams.

How low will malware go to get onto your device? We thought using Minecraft to gain access to your computer was the most nefarious method hackers have produced, but there's a new, even lower type of attack that uses Microsoft Teams and GIFs to mount phishing attacks on your computer.

The new attack is called GIFShell and it installs malware on your computer to steal data. It does so by sneaking itself into innocent-looking GIFs and then waiting for you to share the GIF with your colleagues via Microsoft Teams.

Read more
Don’t fall for this devious new Microsoft Office scam
A package with a fake Microsoft Office USB stick.

With packaging looking legitimate enough at first glance, scammers are sending out fake Microsoft Office USB sticks -- loaded with ransomware -- to individuals.

As reported by Tom’s Hardware and PCMag, the USBs are sent out to randomly selected addresses in the hopes of convincing targets that they inadvertently received a $439 Office Professional Plus package.

Read more