It’s one time when we can all (yes, all) give Microsoft a big “Attaboy!” for the work done in taking down a spam botnet, which was controlling at least 277 .com domains.

Those domains are said to be the key to removing thousands of computers, referred to as zombies, from causing problems all over the globe.

InfoWorld has more from the inside –

With the help of a U.S. federal judge, Microsoft has struck a blow against one of the Internet’s worst sources of spam: the notorious Waledac botnet.

Microsoft said late Wednesday that it had been granted a court order that will cut off 277 .com domains associated with the botnet. This will effectively knock the brains of Waledac off the Internet, by removing the command-and-control servers that criminals use to send commands to hundreds of thousands of infected machines.

Thought to be used by Eastern European spammers, Waledac has been a major source of computer infections and spam over the past year. Microsoft believes the botnet can send over 1.5 billion [b] spam messages daily.

In a lawsuit against the unknown spammers behind Waledac, filed Monday with the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia, Microsoft argues that Verisign, which manages the .com domain, is a choke-point for the botnet. The court has apparently ordered Verisign to remove the botnet’s command-and-control domains from the Internet.

“This action has quickly and effectively cut off traffic to Waledac at the ‘.com’ or domain registry level, severing the connection between the command and control centers of the botnet and most of its thousands of zombie computers around the world,” Microsoft said in its blog post announcing the effort.

Verisign could not immediately be reached for comment.

Because Waledac uses peer-to-peer techniques to control hacked boxes as well, Microsoft has more work to do, however.

“It’s a busy night tonight and tomorrow is probably going to be a busy day as well,” said Jeff Williams, director of Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center in an e-mail interview.

Williams didn’t provide details on what Microsoft was doing to further attack Waledac, but in its blog posting the company said it is “taking additional technical countermeasures to downgrade much of the remaining peer-to-peer command and control communication within the botnet.” Microsoft expects to “continue to work with the security community to mitigate and respond to this botnet,” the post states.

Known internally as Operation b49, Microsoft’s takedown operation “was the result of months of investigation and the innovative application of a tried and true legal strategy,” Microsoft said.

Microsoft tried to strike a blow against Waledac last April, by adding detection for the infection to its Malicious Software Removal tool. But that didn’t stop the botnet, and spam levels have remained high.

“They didn’t kill it,” said Paul Ferguson , a researcher with Trend Micro, via instant message. “I’ve been getting a boat-load of Waledac spam lately.”

It’s clear that from stories like this one, tracking computers in this day and age is far more difficult, or as glamorous as the tracking would seem to be depicted in popular movies, such as the James Bond picture “Goldeneye”. With the amount of traffic on the internet these days, it is an amazing thing that some things are ever found.

I personally wonder who comes up with the names, and also why the naming occurs – I’d think it would be more important to spend the time tracking, rather than naming.

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