Microsoft and the FBI raided various hosting facilities across the US in a move calculated to take down the main sources of junk mail that clogs up inboxes worldwide.
The move comes in the wake of a civil lawsuit against unnamed operators of the Rustock ‘botnet’, which was a vast network of computers worldwide infected with malicious software that enables its masterminds to distribute massive volumes of spam peddling pharmaceuticals and counterfeit software.
Microsoft’s digital crime unit accompanied by US federal marshals struck at internet hosting facilities and data centres in Denver, Colorado; Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; Ohio and Kansas.
The move has been described as a ‘decapitation’ aimed at severing the command-and-control computers from sending out orders to infected computers.
According to Symantec, the Rustock botnet is the largest source of spam in the world, accounting for 50pc of all spam.