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Facebook Helped FBI Nab Operators of Massive 'Butterfly' Botnet

The U.S. Department of Justice said on Tuesday that they’ve arrested ten suspects involved in a global botnet operation that infected more than 11 million systems. According to the agency, Facebook was instrumental in case, providing critical information that later led to the arrests.

The Butterfly Botnet is the name given to the various banking payloads delivered by the Yahos family of malware. According to the FBI, the ten people arrested are from various parts of the globe, but they were all working on a massive scam that allegedly netted them upwards of $850 million. The reported profits earned by the crooks come from the estimated total losses by the 11 million victims in the case, who had financial data stolen due to being part of the botnet.

Facebook’s security team assisted the FBI throughout the investigation, by helping to identify the root cause of the attacks, the perpetrators, and those affected by the Yahos malware. Yahos targeted Facebook users from 2010 to October 2012, and security systems on Facebook’s backend were able to detect affected accounts and provide tools to remove these threats.

Other than the fact that Facebook helped take down the botmasters, the full extent of their role remains unknown.

"While only a small subset of the 11 million computers infected had accounts on Facebook, our malware researchers were able to provide intelligence to law enforcement about the virus' architecture and the perpetrators responsible, culminating in the arrests this week," Facebook noted in a post Wednesday.

The ten people arrested hail from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.