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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Google warns 1 million devices targeted by ‘Russian hack’


The global tech giant said 1 million devices were targeted by the Glupteba cyber attack.

Google has taken legal action against Russian hackers that it thinks are behind infecting over 1 million devices. 

“Today, we took action to disrupt Glupteba, a sophisticated botnet which targets Windows machines and protects itself using blockchain technology,” the tech giant announced in a statement on Tuesday. 

“Botnets are a real threat to Internet users, and require the efforts of industry and law enforcement to deter them,” it added.

The company’s investigation found that the Glupteba botnet breached around one million Windows PCs worldwide, and was infecting thousands of new devices per day. Google said it is suing two Russia-based hackers who are allegedly behind the operation.

A botnet is a network that infects people’s personal devices allowing operators to access and steal sensitive information, mine cryptocurrencies, and commit different kinds of fraud through personal networks. 

Google said it disrupted the operation and “terminated around 63M Google Docs observed to have distributed Glupteba, 1,183 Google Accounts, 908 Cloud Projects, and 870 Google Ads accounts associated with their distribution.”

Some 3.5 million users were alerted before downloading an unsafe file through Google Safe Browsing warnings. Google warned that operators have already planned a backup mechanism to keep the network running.

“We understand and recognise the threats the Internet faces, and we are doing our part to address them,” the company promised.

This marks the first time legal action has been taken against a blockchain-enabled botnet. Google also filed a temporary restraining order in efforts to further curb the malicious network from spreading. 

Read also: Apple sues Israeli NSO Group for spying on users

Now, the tech giant is seeking to stop other cyber-crimes, but security experts believe this to be an almost impossible feat. 

“It is rare that those behind such operations are ever caught, so it is often best to fight such activities with preventative measures,” said Jake Moore, a cybersecurity specialist from the internet security firm ESET.

Experts are now advising users to download antivirus software on their computers and remain on high alert for such malicious acts. 

In recent years, tech giants have been exerting efforts to protect user privacy and disrupt cyber-crimes through their services. 

Earlier this year, Apple Inc. took serious action against Israel’s notorious surveillance firm NSO Group for targeting users through infecting devices with its Pegasus spyware.

NSO Group has been systematically colluding with foreign governments to target and surveil government officials, activists, journalists, academics and embassy workers around the world, including several in Qatar.

Its state-sponsored surveillance technology could breach multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. 

iPhone users were urged to update their softwares which contains advanced built-in security protection features, in line with efforts to protect users.

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