FBI smashes botnet gang with help from Facebook

security key on keyboard

Facebook has teamed up with the FBI to help bust a cybercrime gang responsible for infecting 11 million computers.

The social network helped the FBI, the US Department of Justice and international law enforcement partners to dismantle the criminal gang.

Ten suspects from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, the UK, and the US have been arrested. The gang members are believed to have stolen more than $850 million from users, but the FBI did not elaborate on how they managed to make so much money.

The gang used the Yahos malware and Butterfly botnet to steal money and personal information. Facebook helped in the investigation as Yahos had targeted its users between 2010 and 2012. The social network's security systems were used to track affected accounts and remove the malware.

The FBI used agents working in field offices across the US as well working with the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the US Attorney's Office for the District of Hawaii, the Western District of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency was also involved in helping bust the gang.

In Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Republika Srpska Ministry of Interior, Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Interior General Police Directorate, National Police Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime, New Zealand Police and Peruvian National Police also played a role in apprehending the gang members.

The FBI recommended that users update their applications and operating system on a regular basis to reduce the risk of compromise and perform regular anti-virus checks.

Earlier this year, malware instances on Facebook managed to steal more than 45,000 login credentials from the site. The Ramnit worm affected users mostly in the UK and France.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.