"The majority of victims are not even aware that their computer has been compromised."
Today the Department of Justice and FBI announced the results of an ongoing cyber crime initiative to disrupt and dismantle "botherders" and elevate the public's cyber security awareness of botnets. OPERATION BOT ROAST is a national initiative and ongoing investigations have identified over one million victim computer IP addresses. The FBI is working with industry partners, including the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University, to notify the victim owners of the computers. Through this process the FBI may uncover additional incidents in which botnets have been used to facilitate other criminal activity.
A botnet is a collection of compromised computers under the remote command and control of a criminal "botherder." Most owners of the compromised computers are unknowing and unwitting victims. They have unintentionally allowed unauthorized access and use of their computers as a vehicle to facilitate other crimes, such as identity theft, denial of service attacks, phishing, click fraud, and the mass distribution of spam and spyware. Because of their widely distributed capabilities, botnets are a growing threat to national security, the national information infrastructure, and the economy.
"The majority of victims are not even aware that their computer has been compromised or their personal information exploited," said FBI Assistant Director for the Cyber Division James Finch. "An attacker gains control by infecting the computer with a virus or other malicious code and the computer continues to operate normally. Citizens can protect themselves from botnets and the associated schemes by practicing strong computer security habits to reduce the risk that your computer will be compromised."
Good cyber security tips include updating anti-virus software, installing a firewall, using strong passwords, practicing good e-mail and Web security practices. Although this will not necessarily identify or remove a botnet currently on the system, this can help to prevent future botnet attacks. More information on botnets and tips for cyber crime prevention can be found online.
The FBI will not contact you online and request your personal information so be wary of fraud schemes that request this type of information, especially via unsolicited e-mails. To report fraudulent activity or financial scams, contact the nearest FBI office or police department, and file a complaint online with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate individuals that conduct cyber criminal acts.