Facebook apparently helped the FBI take down a massive botnet, according to the agency.
The Butterfly Botnet, which linked together some 11 million compromised PCs, involved malicious folks from around the world. The FBI, in conjunction with international law enforcement, arrested 10 of them in countries ranging from Croatia and Macedonia to New Zealand, Peru, and the United States.
While the FBI’s official press release didn’t reveal many details about the operation, the agency shone a bright spotlight on Facebook’s security team, which apparently “provided assistance to law enforcement throughout the investigation by helping to identify the root cause, the perpetrators, and those affected by the malware.”
Those involved in the Butterfly botnet had apparently relied on variants of Yahos malware, which has been on security researchers’ collective radar for the past few years. In addition to Facebook, Yahos can spread via Instant Messaging applications such as Skype and MSN. According to the FBI, the social network’s security systems have evolved to detect and fix any accounts affected by Yahos.
The FBI blames the botnet for roughly $850 million in losses, presumably from stolen credit card and bank account information.
Fortunately, most computer users can keep their systems safe from malware by declining to click on suspicious browser and email links, and by keeping their applications and operating system up-to-date. Security researchers have advised a bit of caution with Windows 8, which—although it offers some tightened cyber-security features—is unfamiliar to many; bad actors could take advantage of the operating system’s new interface to trick unsuspecting users into downloading malware.
For IT managers, keeping an entire system safe from attacks is a somewhat more complicated proposition. A number of security teams have begun applying Big Data techniques to keeping their infrastructure safe—which means, basically, using analytics tools to scan massive amounts of in-house data for any oddities, thefts, and other maliciousness. IT vendors such as McAfee and RSA’s NetWitness, for example, offer tools that give a multi-level view into a network’s data streams.