Microsoft Corporation and other security agencies are working worldwide to bring down various botnet systems which are a threat to security as well as wide scale agents of spamming. Recently, Microsoft took action against this in a manner which ignited much controversy and leaves room for doubt as to their pc monitoring activities.
Botnet for Dummies
Botnets are the bane of a peaceful cyber existence. For those of you who may not be familiar with exactly what botnet systems are, the best way to imagine them are as a group of infected computer systems which have been corrupted and forced to ‘join the dark side’ so to say. A single system is usually targeted through emails, drive by downloads, etc and turned into a ‘bot’.
Once the system is corrupted it becomes a part of a ‘botnet’ which is controlled by a ‘botmaster’. The system then is used by the botnet for various purposes, mostly to steal personal data and important details from accounts of lucrative organizations such as Bank of America, NASA, Monster.com, ABC and many more. Botnets are a serious threat to the security of many major corporations worldwide and a concern for internet users who don’t want to lose their system to these botnets.
Of all the Botnet systems, perhaps the most dangerous for law enforcement and cyber crime agencies is the Zeus botnet. It is known to have emerged somewhere in 2009 and is a Trojan horse which has known to have affected millions of computers worldwide and roughly 3.6 million in the United States alone. Asides from the various security organizations tracking and hunting out the Zeus infected pc’s, Microsoft takes one of the strongest stances against Zeus system infiltration. So much so that within the last month it took a civil action that equates to a ‘legal-technical’ stomping out of Zeus systems. In order to follow out with this, Microsoft has publicly released private information about whom they suspect to be responsible for the botnet.
The Ensuing Criticism
This move may seem to be a straight out attack on Zeus by some but was received very skeptically from security organizations like Fox-IT claiming that this was in fact a publicity move on the part of Microsoft and further compromises their own investigations on Zeus infected systems and their users. The chief complaint is that on the day that Microsoft made the move of taking down the Zeus, SpyEye and ICE IX servers, it also made public details regarding the botnet users. By doing this Microsoft has given out particulars which can only be used with the permission of the source of the details, some of them their own work, Fox-IT claims.
Microsoft’s endeavor has also been accused of being nothing but an excuse to continue its own agenda regarding PC monitoring. Microsoft claimed that it was using the servers it had seized to collect IP addresses of Zeus victims, whereas Fox-It is saying Microsoft is using this to collect personal information such as usernames, emails, passwords, etc. So in other words, Microsoft’s intention behind the bold public steps is not really to put the perpetrators in prison but is to reduce spam (which it actually is) and at the same time a way for them to monitor and track personal information from servers of their choosing.
These internet giants and international security agencies are locked in a battle of control over computer servers and involve themselves in pc monitoring and server checking in order to further their goals, whether they are to reduce spamming or reduce internet criminals. And in the midst of this everyday users may be losing their privacy and falling victim to monitoring activities from even reputed organizations like Microsoft.
Natalia David, an author significantly contributes towards PC monitoring software, Parental monitoring software and spy software for blackberry. If you want to know more about Natalia you can follow her on twitter @NataliaDavid4. She blogs for mobistealth.com .
Saurabh Mukhekar is a Tech Blogger from Pune, India. He is also thinker, maker, life long learner, hybrid developer, edupreneur, mover & shaker. He’s captain planet of BlogSaays and seemingly best described in rhyme.
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