‘911 S5’: Chinese national arrested, FBI takes down massive global army of zombie computer devices – The Times of India

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An international law enforcement team has made a significant breakthrough in the fight against cybercrime, arresting a Chinese national and dismantling a massive botnet that has been operational for nearly a decade. This botnet, known as “911 S5,” was responsible for various illegal activities, including identity theft, child exploitation, and financial fraud.The takedown involved cooperation between authorities in multiple countries, highlighting the global nature of cybercrime and the necessity of international collaboration to combat it.
The botnet, managed by Yunhe Wang, infected millions of computers across nearly 200 countries. This network of compromised machines, often referred to as “zombie” computers, was used by criminals to carry out a wide array of illicit activities. The US Department of Justice and the FBI have been instrumental in this operation, which has led to significant financial and operational seizures, including millions in cryptocurrency and luxury assets.
Here is all you need to know:
What was the “911 S5” botnet?

  • The “911 S5” botnet was a vast network of malware-infected computers spanning nearly 200 countries. According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, it was “likely the world’s largest” and facilitated numerous cybercrimes, including identity theft, financial fraud, and access to child exploitation materials.

Who was behind the botnet?

  • Yunhe Wang, a 35-year-old Chinese national, was identified as the administrator of the botnet. Wang was arrested in Singapore on May 24. He allegedly managed the network through 150 dedicated servers, half of which were leased from US-based service providers.

How did the botnet operate?

  • The botnet operated by infecting residential Windows computers with malware, transforming them into “zombie” machines that could be controlled remotely. Cybercriminals purchased access to these compromised computers, using them to carry out various illegal activities.

What kind of crimes were committed using the botnet?


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  • Criminals used the botnet for a staggering array of crimes. These included identity theft, financial fraud, child exploitation, bomb threats, and cyberattacks. The botnet was also involved in defrauding financial institutions and federal lending programs, including pandemic relief scams. US Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the criminals were responsible for over $5.9 billion in estimated losses from relief program fraud.

What assets were seized during the operation?

  • Law enforcement seized approximately $29 million in cryptocurrency, luxury goods valued at $4 million, and about $30 million in real estate. These assets were located in various countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Dubai, and others. Additionally, 22 domains associated with the botnet were also seized.

How did the law enforcement operation unfold?

  • The operation, named Operation Tunnel Rat, involved executing multiple search warrants and conducting interviews in Singapore and Thailand. The FBI, along with international partners, dismantled the botnet’s infrastructure and arrested Wang. Authorities are also looking into the possibility of additional arrests.

How did the public get involved in this operation?

  • The FBI has set up a web page where individuals can check if their IP address was among those compromised by the botnet. This helps potential victims identify and mitigate any security issues stemming from the infection.

What happens next for Yunhe Wang?

  • The US is currently awaiting Wang’s extradition from Singapore. Brett Leatherman, deputy assistant director with the FBI’s Cyber Division, emphasized the urgency of the extradition, stating, “We want him, you know, as soon as possible.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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