June 16, 2024

Dismantling Qakbot Botnet – FBI’s Largest Cyber Operation Ever

Qakbot (aka QBot, Pinkslipbot) is a sophisticated banking Trojan malware that can spread through various methods. Once installed on a system, Qakbot can collect:-

  • Login credentials.
  • Intercept online banking transactions.
  • Gain remote control over the infected computer.

The FBI, along with the Justice Department, led a multinational operation to dismantle the complete infrastructure of the Qakbot malware and botnet on August 29.

In this joint operation, ransomware and cybercriminal activities were actively targeted across seven countries that we have mentioned below:-

  • The U.S.
  • France
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • Romania
  • Latvia
  • The United Kingdom

Besides this, the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, stated:-

“This botnet was actually one of the longest-lasting ones we’ve seen, and its reach spanned across the entire world. Previously, threat actors utilized this botnet to launch ransomware attacks and steal personal data.”

Prominent ransomware groups, including Conti and ProLock, utilized this botnet, resulting in significant losses for businesses. In addition, the operation led to the seizure of millions in cryptocurrency.

Previously, the ransomware actors leveraged this botnet for a 4.9 million dollar ransom from a publishing company. Threat actors have furthermore exploited it to steal terabytes of medical data from a healthcare provider.

Dismantling Qakbot Botnet

The FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed the neutralization of an expansive criminal chain, affecting the following sectors across the US:-

  • Financial institutions
  • Infrastructure,
  • Medical device maker
  • Government contractors

Qakbot malware was born in 2008, and since then, in the U.S. and globally, it has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses through ransomware and cybercrime.

In the operation, the FBI legally accessed Qakbot’s infrastructure and discovered:-

  • 700,000 global infected devices
  • 200,000 in the U.S. (Among the 700,000 global infected devices)

In an effort to stop the botnet from spreading by distributing an uninstaller that would liberate infected devices from the virus and stop new malware from being installed, the FBI diverted the Qakbot traffic to control servers.

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