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December 6, 2013
Reuters reports that Microsoft has disrupted the largest network of compromised personal computers, involving some 2 million machines around the world, since it stepped up its battle against organised online criminals three years ago. The software giant won a judge’s order directing Internet service providers to block all traffic to 18 internet addresses that were used to direct fraudulent activity to the infected machines. Law enforcement in many European countries served warrants at the same time, seizing servers expected to contain more evidence about the leaders of the ZeroAccess crime ring, which was devoted to “click fraud.” Such rings use networks of captive machines, known as botnets, in schemes that force them to click on ads without the computer owners’ knowledge. The scheme cheats advertisers on search engines including Microsoft’s Bing by making them pay for interactions that have no chance of leading to a sale. Microsoft said the botnet had been costing advertisers on Bing, Google Inc and Yahoo Inc an estimated $2.7 million monthly.RSS