The U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce today an international law enforcement operation to seize control over the Gameover ZeuS botnet, a sprawling network of hacked Microsoft Windows computers that currently infects an estimated 500,000 to 1 million compromised systems globally. Experts say PCs infected with Gameover are being harvested for sensitive financial and personal data, and rented out to an elite cadre of hackers for use in online extortion attacks, spam and other illicit moneymaking schemes.
The Obama administration will hold a public meeting at the White House on Wednesday to discuss industry and government efforts to combat botnet activity. Among them is a pilot program to share information about botnet victims between banks and Internet service providers, according to sources familiar with the event.
The FBI is warning that computer crooks have begun launching debilitating cyber attacks against banks and their customers as part of a smoke screen to detract attention away from simultaneous high-dollar cyber heists.
The bureau says the attacks coincide with corporate account takeovers perpetrated by thieves who are using a modified version of the ZeuS Trojan that’s being called “Gameover.” The thefts come after a series of heavy spam campaigns aimed at deploying the malware, which arrives disguised as an email from the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA), a not-for-profit group that develops operating rules for organizations that handle electronic payments. The ZeuS variant steals passwords and gives attackers direct access to the victim’s PC and network.