Microsoft's Botnet Takedown Campaign: 10 Reasons It Keeps Doing It

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2013-06-06

Microsoft's Botnet Takedown Campaign: 10 Reasons It Keeps Doing It

Microsoft and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced on June 6 that they successfully took down a $500 million botnet that was using infected computers around the world to spread even more malware among unsuspecting users.

It was the latest in a relatively long line of wins for Microsoft, which has been actively taking down botnets over the last few years. It also did a bit to improve Microsoft’s security cred in the marketplace.

Still, some wonder why Microsoft is spending so much time taking down botnets. It’s obvious that the company’s work is good for all Windows users, and it’s something that needs to be done. But why has the software giant made botnets its chief targets?

Are there not other possible targets the company could take on that would deal a major blow to malicious hackers? It’s tough to say. Most security experts would balk at the idea of saying that there is any one way to take down botnets or some of the other worrisome cyber-security threats around the world.

Regardless, Microsoft is taking down botnets and its work is far from finished. Read on to find out why Microsoft is keeping botnets in the crosshairs.

1. Improving Web security would be nice

It’s not up for debate that Microsoft is truly trying to improve Web security. The company has a digital-security team and it has spent a considerable amount of cash trying to take down online-based threats. All that effort has helped make the global Internet a bit safer and Microsoft’s successes in this effort should be acknowledged.

2. An ode to its customers

Microsoft has gotten plenty of criticism for a wide range of issues over the years. But the botnet takedown campaign shows the lengths to which it will use its technical expertise and influence to try to protect its users. It’s nice to see Microsoft doing what it can to help its customers.

3. Better Windows protection

By taking down botnets, Microsoft is helping the Windows ecosystem a bit. The company has essentially freed a huge number of computers that are running as zombies under the control of malicious hackers who keep spreading more malware and use the botnets for financial fraud and them. What’s worse, they were infecting other Windows machines at a rapid rate. By killing botnets, Microsoft is helping protect Windows.

4. It’s all about PR

Microsoft has for years been a company that has been viewed as weak on security. And over the past several years, the company has been trying to reverse that perception. Taking down botnets and making a big fuss about it only serves to improve Microsoft’s image and the company knows it.

Microsoft's Botnet Takedown Campaign: 10 Reasons It Keeps Doing It

5. Microsoft: Government partner?

Microsoft hasn’t always had the best relationship with the U.S. government, especially in the late-1990s, but the company’s recent successes at taking down botnets with the help of law enforcement officials seems to indicate that the software company is more of a government partner and good corporate citizen than ever before. It’s an interesting shift.

6. Think twice about that botnet

Microsoft’s botnet takedowns not only improve the Windows ecosystem, but also serve to disrupt plans malicious hackers might have for future exploits. After all, if botnet makers know that Microsoft is coming for them, do they really want to get into the business? Some might say no.

7. Is Android next?

Microsoft’s efforts might also push malicious hackers and other cyber-criminals to Google’s popular operating system, Android. For now, Android isn’t the most secure operating system in the world and droves of hackers are turning to it to take advantage of its security flaws. By fighting the good fight, Microsoft might be pushing hackers to the next frontier: Android.

8. It’s all a diversion

Although the headlines are great for Microsoft, and it likes to talk about the size of the botnets it has taken down, there’s a long, long road ahead of the company if it truly wants to make a difference. Botnets are still running rampant around the world. As much as Microsoft tries to make the world believe that things have changed, it’ll have to carry out many more takedowns before it significantly reduces the sheer volume of global botnet activity.

9. There’s a responsibility factor

Although Microsoft deserves accolades to some degree, isn’t it really the company’s responsibility to be taking down botnets? If Windows didn’t have so many flaws in the first place, the world wouldn’t have to deal with such a big botnet problem. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s one that needs to be taken.

10. The fight isn’t going so well elsewhere

Botnets aren’t necessarily easy to take down, but they appear to be easier targets for Microsoft than all of the malware that’s still roaming the Windows ecosystem. Earlier this month, security firm McAfee reported that PC malware samples increased by 28 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012. It now has a malware “zoo” of more than 120 million unique malware threats taking on Windows.

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