World’s most prolific source of spam emails shut down

Updated: Mar 19, 2011, 13:47 PM IST

London: In a series of coordinated raids by Microsoft and US federal authorities, the world’s most prolific source of spam emails has been shut down.

The Rustock botnet is an international network of virus-infected computers that has been taken advantage of for years by generating billions of emails each day in order to promote unlicensed online pharmacies and impotence pills.

But on Wednesday, security firms noticed email traffic from Rustock completely collapsed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It has now been revealed that Microsoft, backed by US Marshals acting on a court order, seized servers that it’s estimated covertly controlled almost a million Windows PCs.

“We think this has been 100 per cent effective," the Telegraph quoted Richard Boscovich, senior attorney in Microsoft’s digital crimes unit, as saying.

The servers were rented from commercial Internet hosting firms across the Mid West, who were apparently unaware of their role in Rustock. These "command and control" servers would issue instructions to infected home and business PCs worldwide.

The criminals behind the spamming business were named in Microsoft’s lawsuit only as “John Does 1-11”. To get the court order, which empowered it to seize equipment and so "decapitate" the botnet, Microsoft alleged the John Does infringed its trademarks in some of their emails.