Google dismantles a vast network of hackers who have infected more than a million Windows PCs

Google just dismantled the Glupteba network, a botnet that has spread malware to around a million Windows devices using the Bitcoin blockchain. The pirates are said to be Russians.

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Google said Tuesday that it had taken steps to shut down a network of about a million hijacked electronic devices that are used worldwide to commit online crimes. Google has notably worked with internet hosting providers to dismantle the servers that communicate with the botnet called Glupteba.

The “botnet” or “network” of infected devices was backed up and controlled remotely by cybercriminals, allowing them to carry out illicit projects or even denial of service attacks. The network, which was also used to mine Bitcoins without the knowledge of the computer owners, has been hacked, at least for now, from the people who manipulated it on the Internet.

However, the American company warns that the botnet could return, thanks to a new safeguard mechanism that exploits the Bitcoin blockchain. Meanwhile, Google still faces other threats on its network as hackers rush to steal Google Cloud accounts to mine cryptocurrencies. Other hackers have also managed to steal more than 400,000 euros in cryptocurrencies thanks to Google ads.

What is Glupteba, the botnet that has infected over a million Windows PCs?

Glupteba is a modular blockchain-based malware that has been targeting Windows devices around the world since at least 2011, including the United States, India, Brazil, and countries in Southeast Asia. In total, it was reported that more than a million devices were infected and thousands of new machines were compromised every day.

To spread easily, the botnet posed as free downloadable software, video, or movie that users unknowingly installed on their devices. Hackers used infected machines to steal personal data, mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and carry other internet traffic. Because the botnet had access to the power of around a million devices, it had a massive network that could be used to launch ransomware or other large-scale attacks. Therefore, it was necessary for the American group to take action as soon as possible to stop its spread.

The Glupteba botnet has always been difficult to attack as it uses blockchain technology to protect itself. Google’s Threat Analysis Group worked over the past year to disrupt the botnet by removing around 63 million Google Docs, more than 1,100 Google accounts, more than 900 cloud projects, and 870 Google Ads accounts that contribute to network transmission.

Also read: A botnet threatens hundreds of thousands of connected objects

Google files lawsuits against Glupteba authors

Google said Tuesday it was taking legal action to disrupt a botnet run by Russia-based operators, among other measures aimed at fighting the group. In a complaint filed with the United States Court for the Southern District of New York, Google names Russian citizens Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov as the two main operators of the Glupteba botnet, citing the Gmail and Google Workspace accounts they allegedly created to help them. exploit the criminal enterprise.

However, according to reports, another 15 people were also sighted, not yet identified. The company is suing them in hopes of “setting a precedent, putting botnet operators at liability and legal risk, and helping deter future activity.”

This would be the first time Google has faced a botnet, a company spokesman in Mountain View, California said in an email. “We are taking this step to better protect Internet users and for cybercriminals to understand that we will not tolerate this type of activity.”

For their part, the US government and the Biden administration have also declared war on cybercriminals and, in particular, on ransomware. The US president recently convened 30 NATO and G7 member countries to end online threats and cyberterrorism. New measures to fight cybercrime are expected to soon better protect Internet users around the world.

Source: Google.

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