New Microsoft action to fight ransomware ahead of U.S. elections

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American multinational technology company, Microsoft has revealed that they have taken action to disrupt a botnet called Trickbot, one of the world’s most infamous botnets and prolific distributors of ransomware.

Ransomware is said to be one of the largest threats to the upcoming U.S elections as enemies can use it to infect a computer system used to sustain voter rolls or report on election-night results, taking hold of those systems at a prescribed hour optimized to sow chaos and distrust.

Microsoft said they disrupted Trickbot through a court order that they obtained, as well as technical action they executed in partnership with telecommunications providers around the world. They have now cut off key infrastructure so those operating Trickbot will no longer be able to initiate new infections or activate ransomware already dropped into computer systems.

“In addition to protecting election infrastructure from ransomware attacks, today’s action will protect a wide range of organizations including financial services institutions, government agencies, healthcare facilities, businesses and universities from the various malware infections Trickbot enabled.”- they said.

The statement continued: “Trickbot has infected over a million computing devices around the world since late 2016. While the exact identity of the operators is unknown, research suggests they serve both nation-states and criminal networks for a variety of objectives.”

In closing, the statement read: “Our Digital Crimes Unit will also continue to engage in operations to protect organizations involved in the democratic process and our entire customer base. Since 2010, Microsoft, through the Digital Crimes Unit, has collaborated with law enforcement and other partners on 23 malware and nation-state domain disruptions, resulting in over 500 million devices rescued from cybercriminals. With this civil action, we have leveraged a new legal strategy that allows us to enforce copyright law to prevent Microsoft infrastructure, in this case our software code, from being used to commit crime. As copyright law is more common than computer crime law, this new approach helps us pursue bad actors in more jurisdictions around the world.”

Main Image: Bloomberg

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