The Justice Department recently announced it gave the FBI permission to undertake a court-authorized operation to copy and remove malicious web shells from American computers. The computers were running versions of the Microsoft Exchange Server software exploited by hacking groups across January and February of this year.
The hackers got into email accounts and placed illegal web shells on citizen’s computers. Some victims managed to remove the web shells by themselves, but some are yet to do so – either because they don’t know the shells are present or they don’t know how to remove them. Either way, intervention is needed. This is where the FBI comes in.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said the decision “demonstrates the Department’s commitment to disrupt hacking activity using all of our legal tools, not just prosecutions.”
The FBI declare the mission was a success and used the opportunity to warn other would-be hackers, saying “Our successful action should serve as a reminder to malicious cyber actors that we will impose risk and consequences for cyber intrusions that threaten the national security and public safety of the American people and our international partners.”
Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department issued details of any arrests.