Global Botnet Ring Taken Down by FBI, Facebook

Dennis Faas's picture

Facebook has helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) track down the cybercriminals whose "botnet" is said to have caused losses worth more than $850 million.

A total of 29 local FBI offices and departments worked on the case, along with a half dozen foreign police and crime agencies. Ten people have now been arrested in the United States, the United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, and Peru. (Source:

Those accused of participating in the botnet scheme allegedly helped spread a worm virus called 'Yahos.' This virus reportedly self-replicated to other computers, resulting in a rapid spread of the infection.

Botnet Targeted Bank, Credit Card Details

The FBI says the hackers used their botnet to gain unauthorized access to sensitive personal data, including credit card and bank account details. The botnet operators reportedly used this information to inflict damages totaling $850 million.

It's unclear if the botnet operators actually received the full $850 million. Some of the losses may reflect administration costs resulting from investigating and neutralizing the 'Yahos' threat.

Facebook Plays Critical Role in Stopping Botnet

According to the FBI, the Yahos virus was used to target Facebook users over the past two years.

The FBI added that Facebook security staff "provided assistance to law enforcement throughout the investigation," and were able to help identify both offenders and their victims.

Previous reports had suggested Yahos was able to spread by using bogus links posted to Facebook's chat feature. Victims clicked on the links to view an image, but instead gave the Yahos virus inadvertent access to their computers.

Reports suggest those behind Yahos also targeted Yahoo's instant messaging tool. (Source:

Social media sites like Facebook are becoming popular targets for hackers, because their social nature means one infected user is likely to attract others to click on malicious links.

Potential victims are more willing to click on social network links because they trust their social media 'friends.'

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