Setting a potential precedent in the fight against malicious online networks, a federal court in Virginia is giving Microsoft ownership of more than 270 web domains formerly part of a massive botnet known as Waledac. The network had already been effectively disabled, but the company says the ruling has broader implications.
“It’s open season on botnets,” says Microsoft senior attorney Richard Boscovich Sr., sounding like a 21st Century John Wayne in this USA Today story today. “The hunting licenses have been handed out, and we’re coming back for more.”
A botnet is a network of PCs that has been infected with malicious code that allows them to be controlled remotely, often without the user’s knowledge. Microsoft has said that Waladec was sending more than 1.5 billion spam messages at its peak, before a court order in February allowed the company to cut the spammers off from the network.
Microsoft explains the background and legal implications in this blog post today. Although the defendants didn’t respond in court, the company says it was clear that they were aware of the case because they “actively tried to retaliate, attempting to launch a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against the law firm that filed the suit and even going so far as to threaten one of the researchers involved in the case.”