FBI investigators tried a new approach to taking down a zombie PC gang. For the first time ever, federal authorities in the U.S. seized control of the bad guys' servers, a move that required the U.S. Justice Department to seek permission from a judge in order to carry out the sting. After doing so, authorities were able to counter-attack by issuing their own commands, programming the malware to shutdown, and also log IP addresses of infected machines.
With this information, authorities can turn around and notify ISPs about which machines are compromised, which can then share that information with the victims, according to a BBC report.
While this is a new approach in the U.S., the same tactic has been used elsewhere. Dutch police took a similar approach when it shut down the Bredolab botnet, prompting privacy gurus to question whether or not such a move was legal.
In this case, the FBI was targeting the Coreflood botnet. Coreflood is estimated to have infected some 2.3 million machines, resulting in millions of dollars for its operators.