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Busting Botnets: F-Secure's New Antibot Solution Curbs the Effects of Cybercrime

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Busting Botnets: F-Secure's New Antibot Solution Curbs the Effects of Cybercrime

Botnets are controlling tens of millions of users' computers worldwide, but F-Secure is unveiling a new product that will fight botnets by cleaning infected PCs and devices on operators' networks. F-Secure Antibot disinfects devices that are infected on a network by guiding the users through a simple self-cleaning process, cutting out the need to call the operator helpdesk.

As detailed in F-Secure's latest Threat Report, botnets are flourishing with new packaging, new methods and new business models. ZeroAccess, the world's fastest-growing botnet, infected millions of computers in 2012, using them to commit large-scale click fraud and Bitcoin (a digital currency) mining. Zeus, which is also a banking trojan, causes millions of dollars in loss to its victims by siphoning money from their online bank accounts.

Botnets: Disturbing for consumers, burdensome for operators

"Anywhere from 6 percent to 20 percent of people, depending on the study, still don't use antivirus software," said Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure. "These computers are the ones most likely to get infected a problem for operators wanting a clean network. Antibot helps solve this problem because it works whether or not the computer has antivirus."

A bot (short for robot) is a malware-infected PC or device that is remotely controlled by cybercriminals, and a botnet is a whole network of those infected devices. Cybercriminals can use the device to make money by sending spam, displaying and clicking ads or in the case of a smartphone, sending text messages to premium numbers. Or they can take the device hostage, requiring a ransom to be paid before ceding control. Criminals also use botnets to launch DDoS attacks that bring down organizational websites.

Typically, users don't even realize their computer is part of a botnet, continued Hypponen. "You're living your life and meanwhile, your computer is part of an army of zombies, carrying out the orders of cybercriminals."

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