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FBI's Bot Roast II Sees Great Success

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the electric-bugaloo dept.

Security 129

coondoggie passed us another Network World link, this one discussing the FBI's newest offensive against botnets. They're calling it Operation Bot Roast II. Apparently it's already been quite successful, leading to indictments, search warrants, and the uncovering of some '$20 million in economic loss. writes "Today, botnets are the weapon of choice of cyber criminals. They seek to conceal their criminal activities by using third party computers as vehicles for their crimes. In Bot Roast II, we see the diverse and complex nature of crimes that are being committed through the use of botnets," said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. "Despite this enormous challenge, we will continue to be aggressive in finding those responsible for attempting to exploit unknowing Internet users." I can't help but think, though: how many more of these things are out there that this 'sting' didn't touch?

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Well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21522899)

I can't help but think, though: how many more of these things are out there that this 'sting' didn't touch?>

Well, Zonk, you are still around so I guess they didn't find your massive child porn bot net.

just a drop in the bucket (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21522911)

$20 million in economic loss
So they stopped about a days worth of profit?

Re:just a drop in the bucket (1)

NewsWatcher (450241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21525817)

According to journalist Xavier La Canna [news.com.au] the group being investigated caused a DDoS attack at a Philadelphia university in February 2006 in which computer access was denied to about 4000 university students and staff.

Sometimes the inconvenience is more than just the monetary loss.

Imagine you were a uni student awaiting your examination results, or a researcher who couldn't get vital information to perform an experiment.

something along the lines of.. (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21522919)

I can't help but think, though: how many more of these things are out there that this 'sting' didn't touch?

How much bigger is the Sun than Earth?

The glass is half empty? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523033)

I'm sure there's plenty more out there, but at least they're trying...

It's like the so-called 'war' on drugs, it is unfortunately very hard to align the same financial - and therefore physical - resources as the bad guys.

Also as per the war on drugs, the bad guys also include people in governments - but think Russia and China rather than Colombia & Afghanistan...

Re:The glass is half empty? (2, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523411)

Unlike botnets though, problems associated with drugs would dry up if they simply removed laws banning said drugs.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

lazy_playboy (236084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523631)

or put said money into rehabilitation of addicts instead of wasting it on military action.

Re:The glass is half empty? (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523709)

Yeah, I mean, what's wrong with a little 'roid rage? Someone wacked out on PCP feeling no pain deciding to go on a rampage, people OD'ing because of ready access to heroin, cocaine, whatever.

I'm for a little deregulation of things like pot that aren't that addictive or dangerous, but a completely uncontrolled drug system would be at least as bad or worse for our country than the drug war is now.

Re:The glass is half empty? (4, Insightful)

MrMonroe (1194387) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523771)

Who wants totally uncontrolled system? Weed at 18, harder drugs at 21, no PCP or Oxy without prescription. Fair? Tax the lot of it and let transparent companies take control of the market and you eliminate virtually all of the violence associated with the drug trade. As it is, we simply enrich the kingpins and encourage more people to get into the business.

Re:The glass is half empty? (0, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524071)

... harder drugs at 21 ... Tax the lot of it and let transparent companies take control of the market and you eliminate virtually all of the violence associated with the drug trade.

Will you also be subsidizing other people's consumption of those drugs, and for that matter the rest of their not-as- or non-productive lives as they consume them? With other people's tax dollars? Because if you expect that people are still going to have to pay for what they consume, many of those over-21-year-olds that you'd be happy to see on heroin are still going to resort to crime in order to pay for their existence. Or, maybe you think that entitlements (that other big drug) should take care of their food, rent, transporation, etc? How do you see that working, exactly? Does that person also get health care, including the use of million-dollar diagnostic equipment, when they present with conditions that are far harder to figure out once you know they're full of nice, legal, hard drugs all the time?

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Cairnarvon (901868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524291)

The same questions could be asked about alcohol and cigarettes. Do you support outlawing those as well?
And don't forget, the first thing that happens when drugs are decriminalised is a massive drop in price.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524397)

"Will you also be subsidizing other people's consumption of those drugs, and for that matter the rest of their not-as- or non-productive lives as they consume them? With other people's tax dollars?"

We already do. It is called prison and over 50% of the people there are in there for drug convictions. Who do you think pays for the courts and prison systems? The taxpayers.

"Because if you expect that people are still going to have to pay for what they consume, many of those over-21-year-olds that you'd be happy to see on heroin are still going to resort to crime in order to pay for their existence."

You do know that the reason illegal drugs cost so much is because they are illegal, right? That's what the black market does to prices. Legalize drugs and the cost would plummet.

"when they present with conditions that are far harder to figure out once you know they're full of nice, legal, hard drugs all the time?"

What? If a doctor knew exactly what kind of drugs they were taking, in controlled strengths and dosages (due to the fact they are now legal and regulated), how would that make it any more difficult? Talk about your hypothetical straw man argument...

let me ask you a question - if drugs were legal tomorrow would you go out and binge on heroin and cocaine? No? Maybe that is due to the fact the legality of a drug has no bearing on whether or not a person chooses to take it. If it did, then obviously nobody would be taking illegal drugs.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21527181)

What? If a doctor knew exactly what kind of drugs they were taking, in controlled strengths and dosages (due to the fact they are now legal and regulated), how would that make it any more difficult?

Because people who trash their nervous systems (and have all sorts of indirect problems, like useless immune systems) are a train wreck. It's harder to treat people like that, and harder to understand when something else is causing complications.

if drugs were legal tomorrow would you go out and binge on heroin and cocaine?

No.

Maybe that is due to the fact the legality of a drug has no bearing on whether or not a person chooses to take it

Nice try. Do you really think that a sudden, giant wash of cheap, legal narcotics wouldn't bring a lot more young people into a (shorter) lifetime of addiction? People steadily use drugs like heroin because they're addicted to it. They get addicted to it by trying/using it. They try/use it for the first time, typically, in a social setting. Make heroin legal, and you'll manufacture untold more social settings in which that can and will happen for the first time. And then you'll have more people "choosing" that lifetime of addiction, because they'll have no choice. Nice drug, heroin.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524699)

Because if you expect that people are still going to have to pay for what they consume, many of those over-21-year-olds that you'd be happy to see on heroin are still going to resort to crime in order to pay for their existence.

You can be addicted to opiates and still make a living. In fact, you can be a world renowned surgeon [wikipedia.org] and be addicted to opiates. Most of the problems opiate addiction causes is due to the social stigma and difficulty involved in getting the drug. Oh, and without the overhead of the black market marking up the price of opiates, a dose of morphine could cost pennies. So even the ones with minimum wage jobs could afford to maintain themselves without resorting to crime.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524279)

Weed at 18, harder drugs at 21, no PCP or Oxy without prescription. Fair? Tax the lot of it and let transparent companies take control of the market and you eliminate virtually all of the violence associated with the drug trade.

And then you sue all those companies for umpteen billions. Indeed, why should Big Cocaine be different from Big Tobacco?

Re:The glass is half empty? (4, Funny)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524493)

And then you sue all those companies for umpteen billions. Indeed, why should Big Cocaine be different from Big Tobacco?

Hey now, relax. Currently we're only sending the US Marines against the drug cartels. Now you want to unleash an army of lawyers on them?! Talk about your cruel and unusual punishment.

Heck, forget waterboarding. Let's just put the terrorists at the Gitmo through a prolonged child custody battle. They'll crack in no time.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524573)

The drug situation as it is now IS completely uncontrolled. You can't regulate the black market. The best you can do is legalize and bring them under the umbrella of government regulation.

Re:The glass is half empty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21524937)

Start using the UK system. You can come into a clinic and get free drugs as long as you use them there and no where else, don't commit any crimes, and stay in a counseling program at the same time. The success rate has been very good.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523875)

Or put the money into prevention, education etc. which is more cost-effective than repression.

I'm not sure things would 'dry up' though. Prohibition (of alocohol) led to the same sad results that we've got with hard drugs.
Well-organised and financed crime.

Sadly though, alcohol abuse is still with us...

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

KevReedUK (1066760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21526035)

Education is the key here, I think...

I used to work with a local cadet unit. Our cadets were a fairly even mix of males and females who were aged 13 - 20.

Whilst working with them I had my eyes opened to just how seriously lacking drug education in schools is here in the UK.

In schools, the drugs education basically consists of about an hour to an hour and a half during which a teacher, not usually from any particular subject area, who had absolutely no experience or training in the subject of substance abuse would hand out a couple of sheets of A4 photocopes to each student, then would read them... "Drugs are bad" would be repeated ad nauseum (kinda like that character in South Park with the glove-puppet)... thus endeth the lesson. (please note, I'm talking a decade ago, things MAY have changed, but I doubt it!)

When working with the cadets, we had the regional RAF drugs awareness officer come in and give a lecture to the cadets (and the dozen or so parents who considered it their responsibility to educate themselves on the sort of things their children may be exposed to).

The approach was COMPLETELY different:

1) He never once used the killer phrase "Drugs are bad"
2) He handed out actual examples of each drug discussed (sealed in plexiglass, before anyone gets excited) so those present would recognise the drugs in question
3) He stated the positive effects of each drug / class of drug, rather than just the negatives
4) He quoted the types of sentence that those found with each drug was subject to at the time, both for posession and distribution
5) He encouraged the asking of questions (something the school teachers are unable to do, as they don't have the answers)
6) He encouraged those present to share any experiences they had had either personally, or with friends / relatives 7) At the end of the presentation, he basically shrugged and said "well folks... there are the facts. It's up to you to make your own minds up what you want to do."

The important differences:

A) Even though the cadets were of school age (mostly), he adressed them as young adults. He presented the information, rather than preaching it
B) Those present were encouraged to participate in the learning process, asking questions and sharing experiences
C) Alcohol, Caffeine, Tobacco and prescription medication were also included in the subject matter

After the first couple of drugs were mentioned, cadets would start chipping in with the local street prices for each drug as it was discussed. All bar ONE of the parents who attended thought the lecture was delivered in the right way. The one who had a problem with the delivery was only displeased because he DIDN'T, at ANY point, say "drugs are bad" or try to persuade those present not to take drugs.

The above being said... I'm sure some will mod me as off-topic, but I feel there is a point to be made here that does draw a paralell between the "war on drugs" and the Bot Roasts (Is it just me, or did the FBI miss the opportunity for additional funding by not naming it the "war on malware").

Computer education in schools needs a thorough overhaul if we are going to beat the malware problem.

Whilst to many of us this will hardly be a surprise, consider the differences shown above in substance abuse awareness education and cast your minds back (those who actually had computer classes in school during the era since magazines were first distributed with coverdisks) to the education you've received in using a computer.

I've been a student, and I've been on the other side of the fence as support staff in a school. IT classes in the schools I have experienced were not taught by a teacher with any real specialist training or background. Usually, they were maths teachers with a few spare slots in their schedule, usually due to them not being qualified to teach the higher level classes (GCSEs and up).

IT lessons would be "Here's how to use MS Word", ditto for Excel, MS Paint, Powerpoint and Outlook Express. Internet training was limited to "this is how to navigate our own school website as practice, then here's the address for the Excite search engine... knock yourselves out!" which inevitably ended up with the teacher in question asking me to pull the cable on the internet connection (this was in the days before widespread filtered access. We took on one of the first filtered access packages shortly after I started working at the school in question and were less than amused when we could no longer see the websites for schools and colleges in esSEX, susSEX, middleSEX, CHATham, sCUNThorpe and a number of other such examples of the perils of word-based URL-filtering).

If you were REALLY lucky, your school had purchased and deployed either MS Access, LOGO, or both and you'd get to play with them (and play is the right word, as few teachers truly understood them!).

Even where the children all have their own email addresses within the school, it is (or at least WAS) VERY rare for there to be any coverage of the dangers of attachments, and the dangers of downloading files from the 'net was just something that wasn't covered as we had a pioneering piece of software (in the words of the salesman who sold it to my boss) that snapshotted a PC on initial build, listed all the executables there and would only run those, or others specifically authorised by the network admin (anyone else on here from the UK remember the first generation RM Protect on RM Connect 2.3 networks?!?).

It's all very well saying "Well if Micro$hit could code worth a damn we wouldn't be in this mess", but I believe that the USERS need to take at least SOME responsibility for this. If you don't know the risks associated with using something, DON'T USE IT. This applies to cars (Hey, someone had to bring up an automotive analogy, however weak it may be... this is /. after all!), guns, powertools... everything really!

Don't get me wrong... I know there are more secure operating systems out there, and they are approaching the level of entry-level ease of use that Microsoft, and to some extent Apple, have built their businesses on, but they don't have the same level of market penetration Microsoft has. It is fair to say, however, that if you run a good AV, Firewall, Anti-Spyware etc and BOTHER TO KEEP THEM UPDATED, and if you pay attention to what executables you choose to run, and you EXCERCISE AT LEAST A LITTLE COMMON SENSE you DRASTICALLY reduce the risk of your computer becoming one of the great army of the undead.

Too many times, I've heard colleagues say "My computer broke after I opened an attachment in an email". When I ask "who was it from?" they often admit to never having bothered to read the email, but have just seen a paperclip in the attachments column and have opened that email and double-clicked on the attachment (a problem that tends to go away when they get newer machines with newer versions of Outlook Express / Outlook installed).

I'm not suggesting that they have any malicious intent, but a little targeted education would take the silent "ab" off the front of most "users".

Re:The glass is half empty? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21524073)

Sure. We can all see how the legalization of tobacco and alcohol has eradicated demand for those products.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

InsertCleverUsername (950130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21525007)

> Sure. We can all see how the legalization of tobacco and alcohol has
> eradicated demand for those products.

True. But when was the last time you heard about somebody getting shot for a cigarette?

Some problems are worse than others.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Bobo72a (1150977) | more than 6 years ago | (#21527183)

On a separate note, a kid I knew in high school just recently received a prison sentence for stabbing another man for stealing his cigarettes. The world is a funny place.

Re:The glass is half empty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21524293)

I'm sorry but this really pisses me off.

A good friend of mine was killed a few years ago in Flint, MI by a crack-head with an AK47. Until you solve poverty, abuse and a whole crap-load of other problems with society, problems with drugs are not going to "dry up" if the laws banning them are removed.

Re:The glass is half empty? (0, Flamebait)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524363)

So my dad will no longer be a toothless meth addict who rarely bathes, lives as a squatter near Compton, and looks 20 years older than he is? Sorry, but something makes me want to call BULLSHIT!

FYI, he started as a pothead. So forgive me if I don't exactly support the notion that pot is an ok drug, safe to legalize.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524755)

Before he started smoking pot I bet he drank orange juice. Maybe we should ban that too? Post hoc ergo propter hoc?

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524813)

Ok, I'm not meaning to troll in the shlightest, but I seriously doubt that he "started as a pothead"

Odds are he started on booze. Same as everybody else.

While I do not deny that the "hardcore" drugs beat the living hell out of people's lives, and I have the upmost sympathy for what you personally have most likely gone through, the war on ganja is pure unadulterated bullshit. The only proven tie between pot use and hard drug use is the dealer - you go in to buy weed and are offered , you try it, you get hooked on it.

Again, I feel your pain in having to deal with this in your family, but as far as I'm concerned Alcohol is a bigger gateway drug than anything else out there. The only reason you don't hear the government crying on how xx percentage of alcohol users become drug users, like you do about pot users, is the government makes a farking fortune off of booze & have no desire to ever dare cry out that alcohol might be bad.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

McFadden (809368) | more than 6 years ago | (#21526163)

Unlike botnets though, problems associated with drugs would dry up if they simply removed laws banning said drugs.
Yeah, because there's never been a single incident of alcohol related crime since prohibition ended. I'm in favor of a carefully monitored and controlled legalization of drugs, as I think it would improve the situation, but flippant suggestions that the problem would just disappear are just overly simplistic and worthless.

Re:The glass is half empty? (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523749)

They should do for the "War on spam," what they did for the, " War on drugs,". eg: auction off the evidence and let 'em keep the cash.

Re:something along the lines of.. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523127)

2. Its is the answer to all questions of speculative quantity due to its patented even-prime properties. There is no question too big or too small for it to answer.

well (5, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21522969)

20 million in economic loss

And what was the cost of this project to begin with?

Who cares? (4, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523091)

If the cost of a burglary investigation is likely to exceed the cost of the burglary, do the police not investigate?

Re:Who cares? (1)

SevenDigitUID (1104081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523229)

Very often they do not. They will come, file a report so you can give a report to your insurance company, and say goodbye. Very little "investigation" is done.

Re:Who cares? (1)

SevenDigitUID (1104081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523283)

Sorry, meant to mention this too: When you hear about police raids for RIAA or MPAA, they are happening because those agencies are willing to take a bulk of the costs onto themselves.

Re:Who cares? (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523381)

No they don't actually..

Infact its clearly written into law like that. They have varying degrees of burglary, from simple breaking and entering to grand theft. There is a clearly defined monetary difference attached to burglary. The same should be applied to the FBI's approach. If it was, RIAA/MPAA would not have them running around like errand boys. How much did I "steal" from RIAA/MPAA? None. None at all.

Re:Who cares? (3, Insightful)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523511)

The fallacy there is thinking financial loss is the ONLY aspect of botnet operation. Botnets cause a lot more damage than what fraud and spam cost.

A better analogy would be investigating a serial arsonist and discovering a link to a recent rash of burglary incidents in the process.
=Smidge=

Re:Who cares? (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523895)

I completly agree, but this is America. Its best to speak in terms on finicial damages to anyone in charge of anything. On that level, the FBI completly wasted money that would have been better invested in educating users.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21525707)

"but this is America. Its best to speak in terms on finicial damages" "but this is America. Its best to speak in terms of ingrained puritanism" there, fixed that for you.

don't worry about how many... (2, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21522989)

There are plenty. If the government knows how to find botnets, they know how to run their own. I am willing to bet that pretty much any government worth anything will be using them, or has been using them to spy on other countries. If you believe that the NSA is NOT using one, you need to go get a tin foil hat this afternoon, and I mean it.

Industrial espionage doesn't seem likely, but it is happening already. Those without visible malicious activities or results will go undetected. They are out there in the wild now. No, that is not just tin foil hattery, it is true. There have been a couple of cases of espionage already uncovered and prosecuted. It would have stayed undetected had it not been for human error in the loop.

Imagine a virus that has one goal... to find a computer with your name as a user. Then, with galactic sized patience, waits... deleting one file per week, the oldest .txt file on the computer, or the oldest .xls file on the computer... or any .ppt files on mounted network shares that are older than 6 months (after copying them to some unknown IP address across the globe somewhere). This virus looks like a computer program owned by and run by a user. It goes undetected for several years... data loss is attributed to poor system performance/upgrades/hardware failures.

It has stored itself on network drives so that it can re-infect later if needed.

Malicious software is more dangerous than you think, and already this type of software is out there in the wild.

Re:don't worry about how many... (4, Insightful)

77Punker (673758) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523077)

Nobody on Slashdot trusts governments, but you make vague claims about widespread government and business use of botnets. Care to show us some examples?

I don't understand why the NSA needs a botnet; they have all the computing power they need and know how to spoof anything else. They don't need your computer to do their dirtywork; they can do it all on their own.

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523179)

I don't understand why the NSA needs a botnet; they have all the computing power they need and know how to spoof anything else.

I'd agree, and to extend that argument, if they used your computer there are enough smart people out there who could figure out NSA secrets! It's just not worth it.

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523219)

Plus it would be illegal! Surely they would never do something like that?

More seriously, one can think of several reasons, (including denyability - does that word exist?), for a gov. to maintain a secret botnet. The attack on Estonia springs to mind...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberattacks_on_Estonia_2007 [wikipedia.org]

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

77Punker (673758) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523277)

Looks like the attack on Estonia was a failure since everybody knows it was Russia. Deniability plays no role because if they put programs on people's computers, they'll pretty quickly put it on the wrong person's computer. The NSA is an organization of human beings that are not interested in getting fired because of some exposure of illegal dealings.

Re:don't worry about how many... (0, Flamebait)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523593)

Yes, "deniability" is a word.

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524807)

Plus they'd be hanging themselves out there for some person to discover ("Hey, the NSA is running a botnet!"). Why bother?

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21525497)

Hold on, I thought the NSA's botnet was something called Windows [slashdot.org] ? I know it's old, but there could still be merit in this claim.

And more to the point (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524809)

It would be dangerous. If you want a computer to process something, that computer is going to be looking at whatever it is processing in an unencrypted form at some point. You can be all tricky about it, but there's no avoiding that. That's why AACS was bypassed so easily, they key in on the computer, there's no avoiding it.

So for the NSA to put classified data on public machines would imply that people could get at it.

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 5 years ago | (#21527767)

Nobody on Slashdot trusts governments, but you make vague claims...
Care to prove that NOBODY on Slashdot trusts governments? :-)

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523103)

I think I already have that virus. Now where the hell did I put that m file.

Re:don't worry about how many... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21523217)

Industrial espionage doesn't seem likely, but it is happening already.

That's some grasp of probability theory you have there...

And as someone else says, the NSA has no use for botnets. They have unlimited computing power and have better things to do than compromise some Packard Bell on a cable modem somewhere to get another handful of FLOPS.

Re:don't worry about how many... (2, Insightful)

blast3r (911514) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523235)

I just now realized I don't know what "Score:5, Informative" means on /. anymore. Shouldn't this be rated 'funny'?

Re:don't worry about how many... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21523683)

It means you're synced up with the liberal groupthink.

Re:don't worry about how many... (2, Insightful)

Danathar (267989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523375)

I only believe what I have evidence to see, unless we are talking about religion then it's a self evident truth that I'm only privy to.

Now not saying that your THEORY that the NSA has their own botnets does not have merit (I can think of reasons why) but do you actually have evidence? Or are you just saying "The NSA is Evil and Evil hackers like Botnets so the NSA has botnets"

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523565)

It goes undetected for several years... data loss is attributed to poor system performance/upgrades/hardware failures.
If it's indistinguishable from normal poor system maintenance/structure/whatever, then who cares? Whether last year's TPS reports are lost because of my own negligence or due to some malicious code, the result is the same -- a useless piece of data is gone. The trick is to make sure this malicious code actually deletes things that are *useful* -- things whose deletion has meaning.

I delete old useless stuff all the time. If I was to change the selection of things I delete from my personal hand-selection method to some random method where the same number of files were deleted randomly, I'd wager the results wouldn't be different in any significant way. The important stuff has regular backups. Hell most of the unimportant stuff is backed up regularly as well. If this malicious code happens to hit the one in a hundred files that *actually* matters, the worst case scenario is a day's changes is lost. Sure if it hits the right file on the right day the results could be bad, but ISTM the odds of hitting the right combination are inversely proportional to the "badness" factor. And to remain undetectable, it has to be some version of random -- if the malware hits the same combination repeatedly because it knows that's the combination that causes real damage, that will raise some serious red flags.

Honestly, with the dreck that accumulates around here, I'd be thankful for something that randomly deletes some old stuff...

Re:don't worry about how many... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21524539)

On most home computers who makes backups? Serious malware doesn't delete files, it uploads your Quicken files and your password lists to servers in Romania. The first you find out is when your checks start bouncing.

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21526807)

I don't disagree. I was responding to the OP's idea of some kind of malware that deletes a file here and there causing slow, untraceable data loss.

As to backups. Well, I guess that explains the erosion of privacy. If people don't care enough to backup their shit, why should they care who knows what about them?

Re:don't worry about how many... (4, Interesting)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523573)

Isn't this what many of us romanticized about back in the late 80s/early 90s? The Cyberpunks, with their l33t hacking skills, breaking into corporate dataspace, stealing intel, selling it to the highest bidder? Yeah, some innocent "civvies" get caught in the crossfire, but here it is. Except not.

Where are the grizzled, thick russian accented, boots wearing, crusty hackers in their survival-style grey-market Russian SUVs decked out with a hodgepodge of the sweetest, cutting edge tech and an old C-64 for shits and giggles online in the back? Where are the dark, smoke-filled bars where suits and data cowboys secretly meet up to exchange USB keys and microdrives for cold, hard cash?

The future is here, but it's certainly not sexy. Geeks are still geeks. :/

Re:don't worry about how many... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21525145)

You've fantasized about this WAY too much.

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

Bri3D (584578) | more than 5 years ago | (#21528829)

Maybe you're out of the loop?

The "shady bars" are called IRC (and I hear that they exist, for real, in Russia, but I've never been there so I can't actually say).

The Cyberpunks, with their l33t hacking skills, breaking into corporate dataspace, stealing intel, selling it to the highest bidder?

Uhh... really? [sans.org] You act like it never happens, and sure, that's a sensationalized white paper, but guess what? It's more common than you seem to think.

I laughed at your comment because you present it with such a sarcastic tone, but it's *entirely true*.

dude, you should work in hollywood (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523611)

or as a sales copy editor at an antivirus vendor

that was the most craptastic display of doom and gloom paranoid hysteric FUD i've seen in a long time

"If you believe that the NSA is NOT using one, you need to go get a tin foil hat this afternoon, and I mean it"

yeah, okay then

!?

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

kmarshallbanana (1192023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524087)

Imagine a virus that has one goal... to find a computer with your name as a user. Then, with galactic sized patience, waits...one file per week...copying them to some unknown IP address across the globe somewhere. This virus looks like a computer program owned by and run by a user. It goes undetected for several years.

...and already this type of software is out there in the wild
Google, right?

Re:don't worry about how many... (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21526023)

That's not a botnet. That's a garden-variety virus. Botnets are used to steal computing resources/bandwidth that doesn't belong to you. Government departments have more than enough computing power, they don't need to steal it from a bunch of desktops running four year-old chips over a dialup link.

Beuwulf! Beuwulf! (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21522999)

Sorry, just trying to figure out a botherder joke.

Re:Beuwulf! Beuwulf! (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523097)

Scruffy looking botherder?

Re:Beuwulf! Beuwulf! (1)

crc79 (1167587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523399)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those... quite botherdsome.

Re:Beuwulf! Beuwulf! (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524677)

Q. Why is a botherd like his staff?
A. They're both crooks.

Notice the ages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21523083)

These fools are pretty much all in their twenties.

Re:Notice the ages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21523625)

And another important mistake most of these guys probably made is shitting where you eat. I bet most if not all of these guys who were caught used their home/work/school network to do what they wanted to do. Following the IP chain enough you will eventually lead to a root IP address where all this activity is going on. If they were smart they would have used several open wireless networks to initiate their business and cover your tracks. Not condoning this type of activity but just saying if these guys were smart it would take more than IP address chaining.

Seems like a cool job (3, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523089)

Working for the FBI you'd get to put all of the knowledge that you have to use, your peers would look up to you for leveraging knowledge that you consider to be trivial, you'd get to go after spammers and botnet operators, AND you get to carry a firearm. Sure the pay kind of sucks, and the hours are probably pretty brutal at times, but all in all it would probably be a pretty good job.

Re:Seems like a cool job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21523443)

I'd do it.

Re:Seems like a cool job (1)

FatMacDaddy (878246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523903)

The pay would probably be sucky compared to the private sector, but these are probably IT positions that would pay better than the field agent pay due to the difficulty in finding eligible candidates. (A good software developer with no criminal history and no drug use could be a narrow field.) Of course, being in the IT area means that you wouldn't be issued a firearm to carry around.

But I think the job satisfaction level would be great once the arrests start happening.

Re:Seems like a cool job (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524225)

A good software developer with no criminal history and no drug use could be a narrow field.

It is certainly too narrow of a field for me. ;) I was never evil genius level good enough to get snatched up by the NSA like a couple of guys I know. Those are the kind of jobs where they almost prefer you to have as shady of a background as possible.

Re:Seems like a cool job (5, Informative)

_.- thimk! -._ (898003) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524931)

There are up sides and down sides.

Get to use all your skills? Full stop. Let's review.

This is the government, with everything that comes with it. Those of you with government experience know what this means. Bureaucracy. Red Tape. Paperwork. For those of you who haven't had the experience, think of the most amazingly, monumentally, mind-bogglingly inane busywork paperwork you've ever had to deal with, and then multiply that by the biggest number you can imagine. Keep imagining.

How well does bureaucracy adapt to change and embrace new technology, and all of it's associated skills? Here's a hint. The Bureau is still using Hoover's secretary's original filing system. Yes, it's still manual. Still paper. No changes. The same system. CSI is entertaining fiction.

Other than small numbers of your fellow squad-mates who are also on cyber detail, your fellow agents are likely neo-luddites, mildly intimidated by word-processing. They're very, very bright people, with a lot of skills. Those skills, however, largely don't involve computers. And for the most part, they don't have to. Most areas of the office are air gapped, anyway. (Really, for the most part, they probably don't trust computers -- which, if you think about it, suggests they are pretty bright after all -- but they're probably not entirely sure they trust someone who spends too much time with them either. Put in enough time on the range, working out, knocking on doors, pounding pavement, and using your head to show you have a clue and you won't get them killed, and then you'll be okay. But not before.)

As for your primary prey, it will not be spammers. It will not be botnet operators. It will not be industrial spies. You will not for the most part, young padawan, be matching your jedi skills against the very best the dark side has to offer.

You will be chasing kiddie porn peddlars, and child molesters. You will be pretending to be 12-year-old girls in chat rooms. When you're doing well, you will be knocking on doors at 5 am, having to spend countless hours reviewing video tape collections to see what has been taped somewhere in the middle of those 400 episodes of 'the golden girls', or all of those Richard Simmons videos. When you find it, you will have to catalog it. (You will learn to be grateful for the fast-forward button on your remote. And you will see things you wish you could unsee.)

If you're a badge-carrying Special Agent, yes, you're armed. "How cool, is that!", you say. You're armed whenever you're on duty, wherever you go. It's a Federal License. Those pesky little state limitations on firearms don't apply.

Add one little detail. You're on call 24x7x365. Which means you have to be able to report for duty at any time, with no advance warning. Which means you're armed -- all the time. No breaks. No holidays. No days off without a sidearm. (Ponder this: where do you put your piece if you want to go to the beach?)

Pay? For a rough rule of thumb calculation, take your current salary in your technical field. Divide by 2 to 2.5. The greater your technical skills the larger the number you'll divide by. You don't get paid based upon your skill set. You get paid based upon your grade. Which is dependent upon time in chair, once you're actually in. Unless you're former law enforcement, former military, or worked for a different governmental agency, in which case you'll start at a higher grade than someone without that background. (Though not necessarily at your previous grade, either.)

Hours? Standard base is a 50 hour week. Unless you're needed for anything else, in which case it may be more. For a lot of tech folks, 50 hours is no big deal, you think. But, here's the kicker. Your morning will usually start at 5 am, in order to get to the office by 7 am. Unless you're knocking on someone's door, in which case you're probably up by 3 am. Or you're on stake out, in which case you're working whatever you're working. (If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late.)

It's not by any means all downside, though. The Bureau is a very flat organization. There are no assigned partners. If something comes up that needs bodies, you'll be working on that, too. So, it's not all typing. You may be going door to door doing interviews, or be part of whatever raid may be going down, if needed.

And, every once in a while you have the great satisfaction of doing things that really need to be done, and stopping very bad people from doing very bad things. And you can't put a price on that. How often can you say that about what you're doing now?

Re:Seems like a cool job (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#21525083)

Thanks for the realistic perspective on what working for the FBI might really be like. I hadn't even considered all of the priority given to kiddie porn and the like. I think that I will stick with my current DBA job.

Re:Seems like a cool job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21526685)

You will be pretending to be 12-year-old girls in chat rooms.... having to spend countless hours reviewing video tape collections to see what has been taped somewhere in the middle of those 400 episodes of 'the golden girls', or all of those Richard Simmons videos.

That certainly does cover the job description of a good number of FBI agents. Wasting taxpayer money so you can entrap misguided pervs living in their parent's basements who would never meet an *actual* 12-year-old online, or spending lots of time to find naked pictures of under 18's from the 1970s (it's ok if FBI agents see it, but anyone else who looks at those pictures is raping children by proxy!). I've just filled my tiny violin with tears, and it doesn't sound right anymore.

We are building a fighting force... (1)

krewemaynard (665044) | more than 5 years ago | (#21528731)

...of extraordinary magnitude. We forge our tradition in the spirit of our ancestors. You have our gratitude.

About half (4, Interesting)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523167)

This past week or two, the SPAM level on my servers has been running about half of what iut had been last month. I chalked it up to the holidays, but now I wonder if the arrests had anything to do with the reduced level?

New acronym? (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524141)

Just wondering: what does SPAM stand for? Sudden Plethora of Awesome Mail?

Spiced Ham (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 5 years ago | (#21529619)

Welcome to the internet. Are you from the past?

Crime is relatively unchanged (5, Insightful)

JRHelgeson (576325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523169)

While they did work to take down some botnets, they could only take out the criminals where they had jurisdiction - which is in the USA. Yes they work with Interpol and have made some symbolic arrests overseas. By and large, the botherders and real criminals continue to operate from countries with internet access combined with a dysfunctional or non-existent legal system (think Russia, Nigeria, Brazil), or simply where the computer crime laws have yet to catch up with the technology (think Spain, Portugal). Countries such as Russia, Brazil are high up on that list of professional criminals that are able to afford the bribes necessary to stay in business.

Re:Crime is relatively unchanged (1)

oPless (63249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523845)

Try Malaysia and Indonesia that's where I see a load of botnets coming from.

Re:Crime is relatively unchanged (1)

JRHelgeson (576325) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524109)

Try Malaysia and Indonesia that's where I see a load of botnets coming from.

Yes, they have a lot of botnets there, but that is NOT where the bot-herders reside. That is simply an indication of an internet populace that hasn't caught up with the concept of needing to patch, update AntiVirus, clean off malware.

The same thing holds true for China, even more so. Being that China runs on pirated software, they don't have access to windows update (They fail windows genuine validation) so they deliberately avoid patching even the critical updates for fear of "getting caught" and then the patches discovering the pirated copy and disabling the OS.

So, when you read in the papers that CHINA IS ATTACKING THE USA!!! LAUNCH ZE MISSLES!!! CYBERRRRRWARRRRGH!!! Don't buy into it - they're being used as proxies. While there might be truth to it, it is still a lot of hype.

If I had to guess (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523171)

I can't help but think, though: how many more of these things are out there that this 'sting' didn't touch?

If I had to guess, I would say it is roughly the same number of computers in use by the US government...

95% of all email is spam (2, Insightful)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523247)

When the level of spam drops back below 95% of it being spam [slashdot.org] , I'll believe these guys are doing their jobs.

Until then, they're just a bunch of ineffectual wankers, and are increasingly more ineffectual as time goes on.

The FTC, FBI, CIA, and NSA are wasting their resources chasing some overinflated bogeyman risk ("terrorists") and meanwhile our communications, financial and transaction systems are under heavy assult. The long term effect of this is lack of confidence in transactions in general, and that is the primary thing that holds economies together.

In other words, we're seriously boned unless these jokers get their act together.

We need RICO prosecutions. (2, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523407)

They need to follow the money behind some of these spammers and start RICO prosecutions against anyone who even had a tangental relationship with these people.

If the legitimate world was worried about $100k fines and 20 years in a Federal-run-by-the-Aryan-Brotherhood-pound-me-in-the-ass prison for dealing with spammers and their ilk, it'd get a lot colder out there for spammers.

Re:We need RICO prosecutions. (1)

Nero Nimbus (1104415) | more than 6 years ago | (#21527265)

I grew up knowing a lot of older people who have been in and out of prison (One of them is in his early 60s, and has spent well over 30 years behind bars, mostly for robbing banks), and all of the ones who have been to both state and federal prisons have said that state prisons are hell, while the federal prisons are pretty easy in comparison. The only difference is that with a state prison, you can get off on parole after doing maybe 30% of your sentence's time (That varies from state to state, I'm sure) if you can get past a parole board. With federal prisons, you have to serve at least 85% of your sentence, because you can have 54 days taken off each year for good behavior. So the "federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison" (Man, I love that term) stereotype would apply moreso to state prisons than federal prisons, and it wouldn't apply at all if the person getting locked up stood their ground and fought the first person who hit on them, regardless of the other guy's size. At least, that's what all of the aforementioned ex-convicts I knew growing up told me. Make of it what you will. Looking back, it was like I was in that old MTV special called "Scared Straight," except I wasn't criminally insane, and I wasn't being yelled at.

One thing that was overlooked here (3, Interesting)

jskline (301574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523307)

One thing that was overlooked here or at least not explained is what happened to all the Bots??? I would be willing to bet that control of these Bots was handed over to another cohort or co-conspirator before being removed from access.

So it begs the question who now has all those Bots??? Are they or how do they plan to notify these people that their machines are infected and that they need to be cleaned...???

Re:One thing that was overlooked here (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523999)

Are they or how do they plan to notify these people that their machines are infected and that they need to be cleaned...???


I had tried to before, but I lack the legal tools: subpoenas. It's so interesting that the FBI considers botnets dangerous, but so far I haven't seen a government-sponsored campaign to prevent botnets and virus infections.

If all the major e-mail companies (hotmail, google, yahoo) and the US government united in identifying the bot-infected machines in the U.S (assume every spam comes from a zombie) so that the owners could be notified, things would be very different today.

Tools needed to do this (4, Informative)

Thagg (9904) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523379)

What kind of tools would the FBI, or any TLA, need to go after botnets?

Assuming that the 'nets were employed to do something blatant (and this is surely not universally the case) you would watch the DDOS or spam attack and see what IP addresses were doing that, then you'd want to go back and see what machines communicated with those machines in the past, and the machines that communicated with those machines. Mining that information should, at some point, lead you to the systems that originated and controlled the attack.

Of course, nobody has that information, right? Nobody can possibly save all the connections between all machines on the internet, certainly not for any length of time...[now is the time to get out your envelopes to do calculations -- I don't think it's by any means impossible to do this.]

If you can't save the whole net, then perhaps you can set probes -- watch internet nexi for IP addresses to go by, once you've identified a few hundred thousand bot-infested machines. Assuming that a bot herder uses machines more than once [another perhaps unsupportable assumption] you could do the same analysis, more slowly, by tracking with these probed addresses as they come across the wire.

I hate botnets, they will destroy the 'net, but I'm not sure that the solution is any better than the problem.

The latest XKCD comic could give us a clue... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523849)

http://xkcd.com/350/ [xkcd.com]

In the comic, a guy has a 40+inches computer display showing a network of viruses in virtualized Windows installs, as an alternative to an aquarium. What is most interesting is the alternate text. It says:

Viruses so far have been really disappointing on the 'disable the internet' front, and time is running out. When Linux/Mac win in a decade or so the game will be over.

News according to Borat? (1)

pantalanaga (1061022) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523901)

Bot nets no longer hosting of sexy time with childrens. Operation is Great Success! High Five!

Was this done with (1)

misterhypno (978442) | more than 6 years ago | (#21523983)

legal subpoenaes being issued? Or was it done without them?

If so, when and where were they issued and by whom? If not - WHY not?

Inquiring minds want to know.

So does the ACLU, I bet.

FBI vs. Russian Mafia (2, Informative)

tristian_was_here (865394) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524047)

The FBI is not as effective as the Russian Mafia.

Re:FBI vs. Russian Mafia (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21526387)

The FBI is not as effective as the Russian mafia?

My response is that the Russian mafia will never be as effective as American capitalism and democracy. It's the thug-like 'take and take' mentality that guides the motivations of these individuals will only really get them so far. They really don't want to work for anything at all. They're the bottom of the barrel scum of humanity. They know it, and that's all they apparently know how to be.

Unfortunately, a gang of thugs like the Russian mafia aren't savvy enough to actually create something constructive, i.e. creating a real product that can truly compete in the world market. But then, as they say... it's always been easier to destroy than to create.

What's more unfortunate is that the same individuals inflict far more damage on on their own people than they ever do here in the US.

It's too bad they're treating the symptom... (4, Informative)

pyrr (1170465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21524139)

...but not the disease. So a bunch of botnet-herder script kiddies and other ne'er-do-wells who exploit a situation are in jail. Did they patch even a single one of the compromised Windows systems that were a part of the botnet? No, they "disrupted" the botnets, which supposedly is going to reduce their ability to be compromised for criminal purposes in the future. I'm sorry, but unless they somehow repaired the exploits, or confiscated the compromised machines and thus removed them from the internet, they're still a bunch of junkers spewing malicious packets and waiting for some new bot-herder to take the helm, hazardous to the infrastructure as well as all the other computers they share the "tubes" with.

The fundamental problem is a single-user operating system that had networking capabilities cobbled-on, but that still is set up like a single-user environment where trust and security weren't perceived as issues. I'd like to see Microsoft step-up to the plate and put effort into developing exciting extras to be bundled with security updates that would at least make their users get more motivated about patching. Of course there's more to security than that, but we're all going to have to live with the mess Microsoft has made with pretty much every OS up to (and quite possibly still including) Vista, for years to come. Barring any proactive effort on Microsoft's part, it seems to me like the FBI has some responsibility to track down computers used in crimes and do something just a bit more permanent than just "reducing" their ability to facilitate criminal activity in the future.

Re:It's too bad they're treating the symptom... (1)

sigterm9 (1192467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21525843)

very good point, and quite the same as I was thinking. It would be great to see something proactive come out of this, but then again, thats asking the impossible, because M$ can't get it through their thick skulls to actually do something about it. A sad web they have woven...

Re:It's too bad they're treating the symptom... (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21526183)

>Did they patch even a single one of the compromised Windows systems that were a part of the botnet?

You patch a machine on my network? Yeah that's a federal offense. Get a warrant.

Its amazing how little people care about law and rights when it comes to technology.

>I'd like to see Microsoft step-up to the plate and put effort into developing exciting extras to be bundled with security updates that would at least make their users get more motivated about patching.

And I'd like a pony. MS turns on auto updates by default. If people arent getting them its because they are going out of their way to shut them off. THat's like saying we should have GM representaives weilding shotguns at people with balding tires.

No thanks.

Is this a good thing? (2, Insightful)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21525823)

Whenever I hear about law enforcement successes in the "cyber" sphere, I can't help but feel a bit uneasy. I've no love for botnets or the people who run them, but I also don't much like the idea of an increased police influence on the Internet. Whatever techniques they learn in apprehending criminals, they will also apply when acting as censors, and I also fear that these wins over criminals will act as good propaganda for having a policed net in general.

Fuck the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21527131)

Bloodthirsty racist assassins for U.S. imperialism, burn in hell.

We will never forget. Sweep away racist police terror with proletarian revolution!

HMM (1)

ezwip (974076) | more than 5 years ago | (#21528551)

Well, if you were to include people that I happen to know I could tell you that none of them were touched. That's about 500k bots right thar people. They are never going to stop this.
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