FBI: 'Butterfly botnet' targeted Facebook users

FBI seal. (AP photo)
December 12, 2012 12:23:31 PM PST
The FBI says a ''Butterfly botnet'' cyber-attack targeted Facebook users around the world and was responsible for over $850 million in losses.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the FBI announced the arrests of 10 people from seven countries, including the United States.

The malicious software apparently gained access to individual computers through Facebook's instant messaging platform, and was able to steal computer users' credit card, bank account and other valuable information.

The FBI says its investigation is ongoing and gives credit to Facebook security.

It is not yet clear how many Facebook users were in the U.S. were victimized.

FBI Press Release:

FBI, International Law Enforcement Disrupt International Organized Cyber Crime Ring Related to Butterfly Botnet

The Department of Justice and the FBI, along with international law enforcement partners, announced the arrests of 10 individuals from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States and the execution of numerous search warrants and interviews.

The operation identified international cyber crime rings that are linked to multiple variants of the Yahos malicious software, or malware, which is linked to more than 11 million compromised computer systems and over $850 million in losses via the Butterfly Botnet, which steals computer users' credit card, bank account, and other personal identifiable information.

"Botnet" is short for robot network; botnets are made up of compromised computer systems and can be utilized by cyber criminals to execute distributed denial of service attacks, send spam e-mails, and conduct underground organized criminal activity, to include malware distribution.

Facebook's security team provided assistance to law enforcement throughout the investigation by helping to identify the root cause, the perpetrators, and those affected by the malware. Yahos targeted Facebook users from 2010 to October 2012, and security systems were able to detect affected accounts and provide tools to remove these threats.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI's Cyber Division, International Operations Division, and the following field offices: Albany, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, El Paso, Honolulu, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New Haven, New Orleans, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, San Diego, San Juan, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington Field; the Department of Justice's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section; the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Hawaii; the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania; and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

The FBI received invaluable international cooperation, assistance, and response from the following partner organizations: 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 Organized Crime; New Zealand Police; Peruvian National Police; and the United Kingdom's Serious Organised Crime Agency.

It is recommended that computer users update their applications and operating system on a regular basis to reduce the risk of compromise and perform regular anti-virus scanning of their computer system. It is also helpful to disconnect personal computers from the Internet when the machines are not in use. Computer users who believe they have been victimized should file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.


Load Comments