FBI Director Christopher Wray Announces Major Operation Targeting the Qakbot Botnet

FBI Director Christopher Wray announces a major operation targeting the Qakbot botnet.

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"Hi, I'm Chris Wray, Director of the FBI.

I'm announcing today an FBI-led worldwide operation that crippled one of the longest running botnets ever seen.

The FBI neutralized this far-reaching criminal supply chain, cutting it off at the knees.

The victims ranged from financial institutions on the East Coast to a critical infrastructure government contractor in the Midwest to a medical device manufacturer on the West Coast.

Two years ago, ransomware actors used this service to attack a publishing company and forced the company to pay $4.9 million in ransom.

And last year, cyber crooks used this botnet to steal gigabytes of private information from a health care provider and later leaked that information on the dark web.

This botnet provided cybercriminals like these with a command-and-control infrastructure consisting of hundreds of thousands of computers used to carry out attacks against individuals and businesses all around the globe.

Just in the past year, this botnet infected something like 700,000 computers, directing them to attack even more unsuspecting victims.

And the botnet’s infrastructure enabled the most prolific ransomware groups, groups like Conti and ProLock to cause losses in the hundreds of millions to businesses around the world.

But that's where we came in.

Our FBI-led operation infiltrated the botnet servers and redirected their traffic to our own systems to uninstall the malware.

This is the first time we've deployed this innovative technique, severing thousands of computers from the botnet and restoring control back to the victims.

We also seized millions in cryptocurrency in the process.

Now, all of this was made possible by the dedicated work of FBI Los Angeles, our Cyber Division at FBI Headquarters, and our partners, both here at home and overseas.

The cyber threat facing our nation is growing more dangerous and complex every day.

But our success proves that our own network and our own capabilities are more powerful.

Working together, the FBI and its partners will continue to fight cyber crime and pursue justice and to promote safety, security and confidence in our digitally-connected world.

Thank you.

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