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The government takes over a botnet

Microsoft's Botnet comic.

Normally, when the good guys try to go after these botnets, their powers are limited because it's just as wrong for law enforcement to dig around in your computer as it is for the bad guys. So the authorities can take down what's called the command and control server, but all of the computers on the botnet are still infected zombies that can be resurrected later. To use an analogy that we've used on the show before, they're sheep without a shepherd.

Now, the Justice Department and the FBI will be able to beef up their efforts by taking down the bad guys' control and command servers, installing their own command and control servers and then giving zombie computers the command to kill the botnet software. In other words, the government will be able to reach into your computer and tell it not to activate the latent infection.

It's an unprecedented move and one that botnet hunters have been requesting for a long time. We talk to Alex Cox, Principal Research Analyst at the security company NetWitness. He says the government isn't able to remove the infection from these computers because that could screw up other functions and data already stored on the computer. But the plan is to neutralize it long enough for the owner of the computer to go in and get it cleaned up.

Also in this program, WorldsBiggestPacMan.com is exactly what it sounds like: hundreds of interlocking Pac Man mazes. And no escape. Ever.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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