Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has helped FBI in busting a massive racket that has stolen more than $500m (£323m) from bank accounts by hacking details from user’s home computers, says a report from BBC.
The coordinated operation that broke the mammoth network was carried in 80 countries by police forces, tech firms and banking institutions. The coordinated operation included confiscation of devices that were responsible for running of Citadel, but despite the efforts, identity of the botnet’s main controller remains unknown.
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Also, FBI along with Europol and police forces is investigating in other countries to identify the 81 “lieutenants” that supported Aquabox to keep the Citadel running.
How Citadel Operated
The hackers used the stolen login and password details for the online bank accounts to withdraw money from the accounts. A number of big banks have been affected by this fraud, including American Express, Bank of America, PayPal, HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo.
Citadel gained popularity after the widely used cybercrime kit, called Zeus, was released online. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) told in a blogpost that Citadel has been effective because the malicious code is bundled in with pirated versions of Windows.
The Citadel network victims were spread worldwide, but the majority of them belonged to North America, Western Europe, Hong Kong, India and Australia.
The Citadel network used a keylogging program to hack the confidential data from about 5 million PC’s. Citadel botnet, that is believed to have about 1,000 of the 1,400 or so networks, have been shut down.
Nevertheless, the software giant have filed a John Doe” lawsuit against the mystery controller. Microsoft believes that the controller uses a nickname Aquabox and operates from Eastern Europe. Along with this Microsoft has started a program to educate the users on how to keep the computers malware free.
As per Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), machines hacked by Citadel were not able to get any security updates, which allowed them to remain under the control of botnet. Now, since the network has been busted, computers will be able to access the security updates helping them to clean their systems from Citadel malware.
A spokesman for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s digital crimes unit, Richard Boscovich said “The bad guys will feel the punch in the gut.”
In a separate news, Security experts, Trend Micro found have found that malware that stoles bank details from the PC’s has been found on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).