Koobface infections halted after Facebook exposure


Koobface has stopped infecting new machines, according to reports, following the public exposure of five people suspected to be behind the criminal operation.

Facebook and Sophos chose to release the names of those they believed to be running the Koobface botnet earlier this week.

Jan Droemer and Dirk Kollberg, German security researchers who wrote up an in-depth report on how they tracked the suspects, said servers running Koobface stopped responding after they released their information via a Sophos blog, according to Reuters.

Our decision to become transparent about this has had a 24-hour impact.

Koobface had stopped spreading via Facebook nine months ago but was continuing to propagate in different ways and via different social networks.

Kaspersky had estimated that Koobface had managed to infect between 400,000 and 800,000 machines in 2010. It first appeared in 2008.

The suspects left a vast trail of digital clues that led to their names appearing in reports, including Facebook pages.

They were also involved in more salacious affairs, including appearances at adult film conferences.

They also failed to lock investigators out of command and control (C&C) centre data, which eventually led to the leaking of their web pseudonyms.

Those identified have now erased social networking profiles found by the researchers.

"The thing that we are most excited about is that the botnet is down," said Facebook security official Ryan McGeehan.

"Our decision to become transparent about this has had a 24-hour impact. Only time will tell if it's permanent but it was certainly effective."

Facebook declared late on Tuesday it would continue to fight the botnet even though it had been banished from the social network.

"While we have been able to keep Koobface off Facebook, we won't declare victory against the virus until its authors are brought to justice," the company said in a blog post.

"We feel it is the interest of everyone online to work with law enforcement and the larger security community to identify the gang and see the full force of law brought to bear against those who have made millions in ill-gotten gains.

"To this end, we will be sharing our intelligence with the rest of the online security community in the coming weeks in an effort to rid the web of this virus forever."

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.