“According to industry estimates, botnets have caused over $9 billion in losses to US victims and over $110 billion in losses globally. Approximately 500 million computers are infected globally each year, translating into 18 victims per second,” Joseph Demarest, assistant director for FBI’s Cyber Division, has shared on Tuesday with the US Senate subcommittee on crime and terrorism.
The affect financial institutions, businesses, universities, hospitals, defense contractors, government, and private citizens, he said, and can be used for DDoS attacks, proxy and spam services, malware distribution, covert intelligence collection, attacks against Internet-connected critical infrastructure, and as weapons in ideology campaigns.
Pointing out the facility with which botnet operators infect users’s computers and rope them into their malicious networks, he nevertheless proudly noted that the bureau, along with its law enforcement and private sector partners, has been successful in taking down a number of large botnets.
“The FBI has developed a strategy to systematically identify cyber criminal enterprises and individuals involved in the development, distribution, facilitation, and support of complex criminal schemes impacting US systems. This complete strategy involves a holistic look at the entire cyber underground ecosystem and all facilitators of a computer intrusion,” he shared.
“Just last month, the FBI Cyber Division evolved to create a threat-model approach to address the most significant domestic and international cyber threats. The FBI cyber criminal strategy consists of the newly established Major Cyber Crimes Unit, which serves as the primary headquarters unit addressing the cyber criminal threat by providing strategic and field office operational support; the Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit (CIRFU), which supports the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) and is composed of representatives from industry, academia, and the FBI; and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which has a vital role in the identification of cyber fraud-related threats.”
He noted the importance of collaboration between the bureau and its international allies, as well as with the private industry and academia, and he mentioned past successes, as well as the latest one: the recent disruption of the GameOver Zeus botnet.