Microsoft Corp. and federal law enforcement agents seized computer equipment from Internet hosting facilities across the U.S. in a sweeping legal attack designed to cripple the leading source of junk email on the Internet.
Microsoft launched the raids as part of a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Seattle in early February against unnamed operators of the Rustock “botnet,” a vast network of computers around the globe infected with malicious software that allows its masterminds to distribute enormous volumes of spam, peddling everything from counterfeit software to pharmaceuticals.
In recent years, Microsoft has stepped up legal actions against a variety of Internet nuisances like spam that it believes inflict harm on its product and reputation. Spam taxes the servers of its Hotmail email service, and impacts the Internet experience of users of Microsoft software like Windows and Office. The malicious code used to form spam botnets often exploits security vulnerabilities in products like Windows.