Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Mike Orcutt

A View from Mike Orcutt

Ever Wondered What a Live Botnet Looks Like?

A visualization of the ZeroAccess botnet reveals a vast empire of fraud.

  • October 15, 2012

The idea of a network of malware-infected zombie computers rigged to do the bidding of criminals conjures up a frightening image on its own. A new visualization of the so-called ZeroAcess botnet shows how alarmingly widespread such schemes can become. 

Thanks to security firm F-Secure and Google Maps, we can see computers infected with ZeroAccess blanketing maps of both the U.S. and Western Europe. The botnet has been around for several years, evolving to evade antivirus software, according to another security firm, Sophos. And it’s been amassing its drone army the same basic way: once the malware is delivered, it connects the infected computer to a peer-to-peer network so it can receive commands to download more malware. The original pest is usually a trojan—a legitimate-looking file or helpful-looking program that fools users into downloading it.

Sophos reports that ZeroAccess malware has been installed around nine million times globally, and the firm estimates that the botnet currently comprises about a million active computers.The scheme is quite lucrative: if running at full capacity, the botnet can reportedly use click fraud and bitcoin mining to make up to $100,000 a day for its operators.

Blockchain is changing how the world does business, whether you’re ready or not. Learn from the experts at Business of Blockchain 2019.

Register now
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to MIT Technology Review.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

    The MIT Technology Review App

  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

  • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.