On March 4, 2013, a contest was held at the Nullcon conference in Goa, India, to see who could take over a botnet. The Times of India reported that the prize money was provided by an Indian government official and was awarded to the Garage4Hackers team. The co-founder of the Nullcon conference, Antriksh Shah, said “At Nullcon Goa 2013, for the first time in the world the government has come forward and announced a bounty prize of Rs 35,000 to whoever provides critical information on the command and control servers of a malware recently found in one of the government installations in India,” and then tweeted, “Dawn of new infosec era.
On Wednesday, March 21, 2012, an operation by security experts from Dell SecureWorks, CrowdStrike, Kaspersky, and the Honeynet Project was initiated to sinkhole infected computers in the Kelihos.B/Hlux.B botnet. The objective of this action was to remove from the attacker’s control all computers currently infected with the Kelihos.B/Hlux.B malware by poisoning the peer lists and routing tables in the lower layers of command and control. This will prevent the botnet operator from doing any more harm with this set of infected computers.
On Sunday, March 25, Microsoft announced that for the fourth time, they had gone to a federal court and successfully obtained an ex parte temporary restraining order (TRO) to seize domain names from botnet operators. For the second time, the court has also ordered U.S. Marshals to accompany Microsoft and others to serve search warrants and seize evidence that can be used in future civil or criminal actions. Critics of earlier such actions who decried them as “vigilantism”, said this was an incomplete takedown of the entire population of Zeus botnets, or had little impact on delivery of spam after a takedown, do not understand some subtle points about these actions.