Microsoft's recent takedown of a prolific network of zombie bots was the culmination of eight years of hard work.
Alongside a number of partners across 35 countries, the company was able to dismantle the Necurs network, which had infected more than 9 million devices since it was first detected in 2012.
Necurs has been behind various criminal scams in recent years, including the stealing of sensitive information and posing as pharmaceutical companies.
Our Digital Crimes Unit collaborated with partners across 35 countries to take action against the Necurs #botnet. This was an important step in protecting business and consumers from #cybercrime. https://t.co/3zX4BGlwHm— Tom Burt (@TomBurt45) March 10, 2020
You might have come across bots before, which are widely used to provide automated responses to user queries. Zombie bots, however, have been manipulated in order to extract personal information or delete data, all of which without users being aware.
While the immediate threat of Necurs may be over, its impact should serve a lesson on the importance of good cyber security.
It is highly recommended that any devices running Windows are well secured. In addition to running dedicated anti-malware software to deal with this type of threat, you should always be running an up-to-date antivirus program.
Mac devices are typically less at risk from attacks, primarily due to the fact that there is a smaller user base to target. However, a recent article suggested that the amount of Mac malware is outpacing that on PCs for the first time, so installing security software should now be standard procedure.
We'd also recommend using a VPN where appropriate across all your devices. This is particularly useful when entering personal details online.
However, hackers are getting increasingly clever at developing malware that goes undetected by software, so this is far from a blanket solution.
With the next malware attack potentially just around the corner, here are some telltale signs that you've got an issue:
- Sudden loss of free available space on your hard drive
- Regular email contacts receive spam emails from you
- Programs that usually run smoothly are now lagging or struggling to open
- Crashes are more frequent and force you to reboot your device
Being aware of these options and taking the appropriate action is the best way to ensure you're protected against an attack from the likes of Necurs in the future.