Information Warfare: Operation Bot Roast

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June 15, 2007: The American FBI revealed that it has gone out and tried to count the number of PCs that have been taken over by criminals for use in computer crime (spamming. DDOS attacks to shut down web sites, etc) or Cyber War activities (like the current Chinese attacks against U.S. miilitary networks). Operation Bot Roast has, so far, identified over a million compromised PCs. The FBI is trying to get in touch with as many of these computer users as possible, and direct them to organizations and companies that can help them clean the zombie software out of their computers. Help can be had for free, although many of the compromised PCs were found to be clogged with all manner of malware (illegal software hidden on your machine to feed you ads or simply track what you do). Most owners of zombiefied computers didn't even realize their PCs had been taken over. Some with heavily infected machines, do notice that the malware slows down the PC, and there have been cases where the user just went out and bought a new computer. Usually, reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling your software works, and is a lot cheaper. But most computer users today don't know how to reformat a hard drive, or even get someone to do it for them.

Operation Bot Roast only collected the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of the compromised PCs. The IP address is the "mailing address" every PC must have when it is connected to the Internet. These addresses are distributed to ISPs (Internet Service Providers), who assign them to PCs that they connect to the Internet. Anyone can go to a site like http://www.ip-adress.com/ to find out which ISP controls which IP address. The FBI is contacting the ISPs, and asking them to contact their customers, preferably via the mail, who were using the infected IP addresses at the time the FBI discovered that IP address to be operating from a zombie PC.

The FBI also identified the operators of many botnet (networks of zombie PCs) operators, has arrested some, and is pursuing many others. To avoid the FBI, many botherders (those who operate botnets) are overseas, often in countries without an extradition treaty with the United States. Criminal gangs are increasingly active in this area, and, in the case of China, so are government Cyber War operations. The FBI did not comment on the Cyber War revelations of Operation Bot Roast, but they must have been substantial, and something the FBI and CIA are busy exploiting.

 


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