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US arrests Chinese man for running the world’s largest zombie network with these 6 malicious VPN apps – Times of India

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The US Justice Department, in collaboration with international agencies, has arrested a Chinese national who has been pushing malware onto victims’ devices using multiple malicious VPN applications. This is said to be the “the largest ever operation against botnets, which play a major role in the deployment of ransomware” on a global level.
YunHe Wang, along with his conspirators, had been running the 911 S5 – one of the largest residential proxy services and botnet — that has compromised over 19 million IP addresses in over 190 countries and confirmed victim losses in the billions of dollars.
“Working with our international partners, the FBI conducted a joint, sequenced cyber operation to dismantle the 911 S5 Botnet—likely the world’s largest botnet ever. We arrested its administrator, Yunhe Wang, seized infrastructure and assets, and levied sanctions against Wang and his co-conspirators,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The ‘free’ VPN applications that hackers used to attack users globally include MaskVPN, DewVPN, PaladinVPN, ProxyGate, ShieldVPN, and ShineVPN.

How hackers installed ransomware in devices

The 911 S5 botnet infected devices through hidden malware disguised as “proxy backdoors” embedded within free, fake VPN applications. These VPNs were often bundled with pirated software and video games, tricking victims into downloading them.
Once the VPN app is downloaded, it would install silently, turning the victim’s device into part of the botnet without their knowledge.
“The proxy backdoor enabled 911 S5 users to re-route their devices through victims’ devices, allowing criminals to carry out crimes such as bomb threats, financial fraud, identity theft, child exploitation, and initial access brokering,” the FBI said.

Tips to protect yourself

The FBI and partner agencies recommend that people should take precautions to protect themselves against botnets:

  • Avoid free software, especially VPNs bundled with pirated content. These can contain hidden malware.
  • Steer clear of suspicious websites and ads. Clicking on them can unknowingly download malware.
  • Don’t open attachments or click links in emails from unknown senders, especially if they seem urgent or request personal information.
  • Regularly update antivirus and operating systems to ensure they can identify the latest threats.

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