Dec 7, 2021 - Technology

Google sues foreign botnet operators

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Google LLC has filed a lawsuit against a botnet named Glupteba, believed to be operated from Russia. It's a network that the company says has been infecting Google services on Windows computers for years.

Why it matters: Tech companies are taking the reins in fighting back against computer hackers, not just relying on law enforcement to do it.

  • Companies like Google and Microsoft have huge teams working on preventing attacks and hacking, as botnets and other cyberattacks impact users.

Details: Google's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, alleges that the botnet, a network of devices infected with malware, engages in various criminal schemes on the devices it infiltrates.

  • The suit says those schemes include: stealing accounts and selling them to third parties, selling credit card information for fraudulent purchases, selling ads on infected devices, and selling access for devices to be used as proxies for cyber criminals to conceal locations and IP addresses.
  • This lawsuit is filed against the operators of the botnet and alleges, among other things, computer fraud and abuse and trademark infringement.

Driving the news: Google said in the lawsuit the botnet network has operated since at least 2011 and infected more than 1 million Microsoft Windows devices.

  • The company says it's the first lawsuit against a blockchain-enabled botnet.
  • Google's suit comes after Microsoft announced Monday it seized websites from a Chinese hacking group that was carrying out cyberattacks.

What they're saying: "Unfortunately, Glupteba’s use of blockchain technology as a resiliency mechanism is notable here and is becoming a more common practice among cyber crime organizations," wrote Google general counsel Halimah DeLaine Prado and VP of security Royal Hansen in a blog post.

Go deeper