A US investigation reveals more than 1m controlled computers as a result of botnet activity

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced the results of the second phase of its investigation into criminal use of botnets.

The investigative has so far uncovered more than $20m in economic loss and more than 1m controlled computers.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III said: "Today, botnets are the weapon of choice of cyber criminals. They seek to conceal their criminal activities by using third party computers as vehicles for their crimes. In Bot Roast II, we see the diverse and complex nature of crimes that are being committed through the use of botnets. Despite this enormous challenge, we will continue to be aggressive in finding those responsible for attempting to exploit unknowing Internet users."

“Today, botnets are the weapon of choice of cyber criminals.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III

FBI Assistant Director James E. Finch, Cyber Division, said, "The public is reminded once again that they can play a part in thwarting botnet activity. Practicing strong computer security habits such as updating anti-virus software, installing a firewall, using strong passwords, and employing good e-mail and web security practices are as basic as putting locks on your doors and windows. Without employing these safeguards, botnets, along with criminal and possibly terrorist activities, will continue to flourish."

A botnet is a collection of compromised computers under the remote command and control of a criminal "botherder." A botherder can gain control of these computers by unleashing malicious software such as viruses, worms, or trojan horses. By executing a simple task such as opening an attachment, clicking on an advertisement, or providing personal information to a phishing site (a fraudulent site that mimics a legitimate site), an individual computer user has unintentionally allowed unauthorized access. Bot operators will then typically use these compromised computers as vehicles to facilitate other attacks.