At the end of August, the dismantling of the Qakbot botnet made headlines. Now there is some background research on the operation that the FBI led. And they’re pricking up their ears – it’s about a mass search of victims.
A mass search of PCs in the U.S.
According to media reports, a federal judge allowed the FBI to conduct a mass search of computers in the USA that has (probably) never been done before By court order, the agency was allowed to search “all computers in the USA” using the remote installation of software and thus search for traces of the botnet.
The FBI needed this permission to shut down the network – the only way to do this was to delete the malware from all infected devices. The FBI first scanned for infections and then cleaned millions of users’ PCs.
However, the FBI’s statements following the break-up are also interesting. It said that “more than 700,000 computers around the world” had been cleaned.
At first glance, it might appear that the FBI only deployed its software on devices that were known to be infected. But that shouldn’t have been the case, reports the news channel NBC. According to a copy of the search warrant, the FBI received court permission to conduct the operation on August 21.
Victims are not notified
The cyber specialists at the FBI then infiltrated Qakbot’s central computer infrastructure and forced them to tell the computers in their botnet to stop listening to Qakbot.
According to the online magazine Techdirt, this measure also means that victims will not be notified that their devices have been repaired or that they have ever been compromised.
With Operation “Duck Hunt,” the FBI took down the huge botnet Qakbot in a joint effort with police authorities around the world. It’s about more than three-quarters of a million affected PCs worldwide and numerous victims. The network has been used for a wide variety of malware campaigns over the years.
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