"It's open season on botnets. The hunting licenses have been handed out, and we're coming back for more." -- Microsoft's senior attorney Richard Boscovich
The domains now owned by Microsoft were part of the Waledac botnet

Much of the spam and malicious internet attacks that web surfers and email users have to deal with on a daily basis come from compromised computers of individuals who have no idea that their machines are infected. These botnets are a major security issue for all web users and shutting them down is a huge goal for security firms and the U.S. government.

One of the largest software companies on the planet is working hard to combat these botnets. Microsoft has sought legal approval to attack botnets and destroy them to limit the amount of spam and the number of attacks that are perpetrated against computer users. This isn't merely an altruistic endeavor on the part of Microsoft, the vast majority of compromised computers that help these botnets operate are running the Windows operating system and the millions of Hotmail users get as much as 650 million spam emails per day originating in part from botnets.

Courts in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia granted Microsoft's motion to give the software giant permanent ownership of 276 web domains that were once used by the Waledac cybergang to send instructions to the hundreds of thousands of composed PCs that made up the botnet and spread spam online. 
USA Today reports that Microsoft's dealt its first major blow in February when the court issued a temporary restraining order taking the 276 domains offline.

The ruling to grant Microsoft ownership of all 276 domains is uncommon according to Microsoft's senior attorney Richard Boscovich, because the owner of the domains could not be reached to mount a courtroom defense. According to Microsoft, the Waledac botnet was at its peak in 2009 sending out as much as 1.5 billion spam messages daily. The botnet was so prolific that Microsoft added repair and removal tools for the Waledac software to its free malicious software removal tool.

Microsoft also stated that after the command center for the botnet was taken out, it recorded tens of thousands of infected PCs that tried to reach the command center for instruction. Over a single 7-day period, Microsoft counted 58,000 PCs attempting 14.6 million connections to the 276 Waledac domains that it owns.

Microsoft isn't alone in its fight against botnets, the FBI caught a botnet kingpin in July that was part of the  botnet responsible for the mariposa virus.

Boscovich said, "It's open season on botnets. The hunting licenses have been handed out, and we're coming back for more."

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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