Five Russian cyber criminals have been forced to take down their servers after Facebook took the unusual tactic of exposing who they were.
The hackers were collectively known as the Koobface gang, because they released a computer virus known as the Koobface worm. That worm is an anagram of “Facebook.” It infected PCs and was used to run various fraud schemes that generated millions of dollars, reports ZDNet.
Security researchers at Kaspersky Labs said the gang had planted malware on as many as 800,000 PCs worldwide at one point. Victims would be unaware that their PCs were infected and that they were participating in things like advertising click fraud.
Facebook identified the members and worked with investigators and law enforcement officials to track them down, reports the New York Times. Turns out, they were living the high life in St. Petersburg and actually posting photographs of their vacations on Foursquare and check-ins of their whereabouts on Twitter.
After being exposed, the five began to delete their social network profiles, but it was too late. Today, a security researchers report that the Koobface botnet has gone dark.
Facebook security official Ryan McGeehan has been quoted in the press saying, “The thing that we are most excited about is that the botnet is down. Our decision to become transparent about this has had a 24-hour impact. Only time will tell if it’s permanent, but it was certainly effective.”