Building on the recent successes of the Rustock (Operation b107) and Waledac (Operation b49) botnet takedowns, I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has taken down the Kelihos botnet in an operation codenamed “Operation b79” using similar legal and technical measures that resulted in our previous successful botnet takedowns.
Kelihos, also known by some as “Waledac 2.0” given its suspected ties to the first botnet Microsoft took down, is not as massive as the Rustock spambot. However, this takedown represents a significant advance in Microsoft’s fight against botnets nonetheless. This takedown will be the first time Microsoft has named a defendant in one of its civil cases involving a botnet and as of approximately 8:15 a.m. Central Europe time on Sept. 26th, the defendants were personally notified of the action.
The Kelihos takedown is intended to send a strong message to those behind botnets that it’s unwise for them to simply try to update their code and rebuild a botnet once we’ve dismantled it. When Microsoft takes a botnet down, we intend to keep it down – and we will continue to take action to protect our customers and platforms and hold botherders accountable for their actions.
In the complaint, Microsoft alleges that Dominique Alexander Piatti, dotFREE Group SRO and John Does 1-22 of owning a domain cz.cc and using cz.cc to register other subdomains such as lewgdooi.cz.cc used to operate and control the Kelihos botnet. Our investigation showed that while some of the defendant’s subdomains may be legitimate, many were being used for questionable purposes with links to a variety of disreputable online activities.
On Sept. 22nd, Microsoft filed for an ex parte temporary restraining order from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against Dominique Alexander Piatti, dotFREE Group SRO and John Does 1-22.
Naming defendants in this case marks a big step forward for Microsoft in making good on its commitment to aggressively protect its platform and customers against abuse from whomever and wherever it may originate. Naming these defendants also helps expose how cybercrime is enabled when domain providers and other cyber infrastructure providers fail to know their customers. Without a domain infrastructure like the one allegedly hosted by Mr. Piatti and his company, botnet operators and other purveyors of scams and malware would find it much harder to operate anonymously and out of sight. By taking down the botnet infrastructure, we hope that this will help deter and raise the cost of committing cybercrime.
Reached Tuesday, Piatti was unable to comment for this story. " I would be glad to give you my side of the story, but I feel that I should hire a lawyer first," he said in an email.