Yesterday, Microsoft announced that in a joint effort with federal authorities it had stopped a botnet affecting more than 300,000 computers around the world. As regular readers of this blog know, a botnet is a network of computers remotely operated by hackers. After infecting the computers with malware that often is unwittingly downloaded by the computer user through clicking on infected links or tainted attachments, the hackers creating the botnet use the infected computers to spread their malware for purposes of identity theft or other scams while setting up a barrier to their being discovered. This particular botnet which appears to have come from Eastern Europe, as many botnets do, has been called the Bamital botnet. Those computers infected by the botnet were temporarily shut down from being able to use the Internet.
If your computer was part of the Bamital botnet, you would have been temporarily unable to search the Internet. Then you would be directed to a website that would provide you with instruction as to how to clear your computer of offending malware so that you could again use the Internet safely. Care should always be taken when clicking on links or downloading attachments to avoid becoming part of a botnet or to avoid downloading malware such as keystroke logging programs targeting your computer that can steal the information from your computer and make you a victm of identity theft. A sign that your computer may be infected is that it is unusually slow or you receive emails that respond to emails that you did not send. My recommendation if you find that you were a victim of this botnet or any botnet is to have a professional clear your computer of offending malware rather than do it yourself unless you are a sophisticated computer user.