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Clipping the butterfly’s wings
On the rare date 12-12-12, the FBI announced that it had cut off the wings of the ‘Butterfly.’ It announced the arrest and arraignment of a group suspected of running the Butterfly Botnet.
THESE BOTHERDS (called so in line with shepherds and cowherds since they ‘herd’ Bots) collectively and effectively controlled a mind-boggling 11 million compromised computer systems. Their actions resulted in a staggering loss of over $ 850 million through stolen credit card and bank account credentials and compromised Personally Identifiable Information (PIIs).

Bots is an abbreviation referring to robot network. These consist of compromised computer systems and are often used by cyber criminals for a variety of activities with varying degree of criminality, resulting in different kind and amount of losses to the owners of the compromised systems. Bots are the favourites for executing distributed denial of service attacks or DDoS attacks; send spam e-mails, conduct underground criminal activity and malware distribution. This list is not exhaustive as botherds are quite innovative in the usage of their ‘assets.’ 

Facebook - an easy target...

At this stage let us introduce Facebook. The very mention of Facebook conjures up different reactions in different minds. The trendy see it as a way of keeping in touch; the tech savvy see it as a mixed bag with significant potential for loss of PIIs; the marketing professional sees its great opportunity to reach out while some security conscious are sceptical – for valid and perceived reasons. With a billion messages flowing through Facebook on a monthly basis, this social networking site has also been a favourite spot to harvest PIIs; both directly and indirectly. Between 2010 and 2012, it was estimated that over a million Facebook accounts were compromised using variants of Yahoo malware and these compromised accounts were linked to Butterfly Botnet. Facebook is acknowledged for helping the law enforcement in cracking down on those who hacked into the user accounts resulting in the successful crackdown on Butterfly Botnet. 

Butterfly Botnet...

Butterfly Botnet is the latest in a family of abuse of compromised computer systems for fraudulent purposes. Starting off with Ramnit in early 2010, we saw the ZeuS Facebook worm recking havoc in mid-2011 and now we have the notorious gang of 10 herding the Butterfly Botnet. When we all screamed at ZeuS Facebook worm having supposedly infected over 45,000 Facebook users, the number pales into insignificance when we see 11 million compromised systems in the Butterfly Botnet. 

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