Microsoft to shut Waledac global spam botnet

26 Feb 2010

Microsoft has won court approval to shut down a major international network of computers – or botnets – that are responsible for more than 1.5 billion spam messages per day.

Microsoft’s request is to shut down some 277 domains it says were used to “command and control” the Waledec botnet.

With the help of intelligence firm Shadowserver, the University of Washington and Symantec, Microsoft succeeded in getting a court in Virginia to force Verisign to temporarily switch off affected domains.

Closing the botnet would mean that up to 90,000 PCs around the world would stop receiving orders from hackers to send out spam.

Waledec was one of the 10 largest botnets active in the US. A botnet is effectively a network of infected computers that hackers control.

About 651million spam emails attributable to Waledec came from Hotmail accounts in December.

Many users aren’t even aware that their computer is part of the botnet and Microsoft says there are still thousands of computers around the world that are parts of giant botnets.

Anti-virus software, it says, is key to fighting malware which infects computers and turns unwitting users’ PCs into botnets.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Microsoft has succeeded in having the Waledec botnet shut down

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years