Mumbai: Microsoft, FBI and other authorities joined hands to take down a cybercrime network that is believed to have caused losses worth over USD 500 million, the US-based software giant said on Thursday.

"The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit worked with leaders of the financial services industry, other technology industry partners and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to disrupt a massive cyber threat responsible for stealing people's online banking information and personal identities," Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft executed a simultaneous operation to disrupt more than 1,400 "Citadel" botnets which are responsible for over half a billion dollars in losses to people and businesses worldwide, it added.

The Citadel malware has affected upwards of five million people, with some of the highest number of infections appearing in the US, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Australia. It is believed that Citadel may have already infected victims in more than 90 countries since its inception. After infecting the computer, Citadel malware starts monitoring and recording the victims' keystrokes.

The tactic, known as keylogging, provides cybercriminals information to gain direct access to a victim's bank account or any other online account to withdraw money or steal personal identities. The harm done by Citadel shows the threat that botnets, malicious software and piracy pose to individuals and businesses around the world, Microsoft General Counsel and Executive Vice President (Legal and Corporate Affairs) Brad Smith said.

"...(the) coordinated action between the private sector and law enforcement demonstrates the power of combined legal and technical expertise and we're going to continue to work together to help put these cybercriminals out of business," he added.

Codenamed b54, this is Microsoft's seventh botnet operation to date and part of a growing proactive effort by both the public and private sector to fight cyber crime.


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