UK police make 2 Trojan computer virus arrests

Nov 18, 2009 By RAPHAEL G. SATTER , Associated Press Writer

(AP) -- A couple suspected of helping spread some of the Internet's most aggressive computer viruses has been arrested in the English city of Manchester, police said Wednesday.

Scotland Yard's electronic crimes unit said a man and a woman, both 20, were arrested Nov. 3 on suspicion of helping spread malicious Trojan computer programs sometimes known as "Zbot" or "ZeuS."

Police said the viruses are thought to have infected tens of thousands of computers worldwide, and one technology consultant described them as the "most notorious pieces of malware of recent times."

"This is one of the most frequent families of worms that we encounter," said Graham Cluley, a technology consultant with the U.K. security firm Sophos PLC. "The ferocity with which it's been spammed out on occasions has really hit our radar."

Cluley said the Zbot family of viruses first came to his attention in 2007. Since then it has periodically swept across the Internet, stealing personal information from computers across the world and feeding it back to . The viruses are commonly known as Trojans because they sneak onto computers and attack it from the inside, harvesting millions of lines of data - including , and social networking passwords.

The viruses spread by sending e-mails or other messages from infected computers, impersonating banks, tax officials, credit card companies or even friends and enticing potential victims to click on a link.

Police said given the amount of information stolen "the potential financial gains to the culprits and losses to individuals and institutions are very substantial."

Cluley said it was impossible to know just how much money had been lost to the viruses, adding that attacks were ongoing - including two in the past week alone.

It is not clear exactly what role the Manchester pair are suspected of playing in the viruses' spread. Scotland Yard says the two have since been released on bail and declined to elaborate on their investigation.

Suspects in Britain are rarely identified unless they've been charged.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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User comments : 14

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Grun4it
not rated yet Nov 18, 2009
I am sure that the couple returned home to enter through their backdoor.
Digi
3.5 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2009
Good. If guilty, take all their worldly goods to pay for police work and send them to prison for the estimated time lost to business and private individuals. What a good lesson that would be for others.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
The viruses are commonly known as Trojans because they sneak onto computers and attack it from the inside

As nearly always, no mention is made that only a certain kind of computer is endangered. Certainly not mine as I don't use that OS.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
Actually ALL computers are subject to phishing attacks. And every computer that has both email and a user that does on line transactions can have important data stolen by phishing.

And if you are using a Mac then be glad that Windows 7 looks to be a success. Otherwise Apple would have increased its market and thus made itself attractive to the wankers. All OSs have flaws that can be exploited. It is just a matter of being worth the time of the thieves.

Yes even Linux has flaws. Probably more than the Mac does. SQL injection attacks ring a bell?

Ethelred
Grun4it
not rated yet Nov 19, 2009
Ethelred, well put. I have tried to explain to my Mac friends that their OS also has exploitable flaws. If you are (a jerk/scumbag) writing a virus or a Trojan, you go for the biggest number of users for the biggest potential outcome. Also, when anyone flaunts perceived (Mac) supremacy too long and someone will write a virus just to shut you up.
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
Actually ALL computers are subject to phishing attacks.
Of course, but what matters is the success of these attacks.

And every computer that has both email and a user that does on line transactions can have important data stolen by phishing.
Again: Yes it is _possible_. What matters, however, is the pragmatic reality, not a theoretic possibility.

All OSs have flaws that can be exploited.
Yes. But here on my desk it matters more what is done than what can be done.

It is just a matter of being worth the time of the thieves.
Yes. An OS that even you don't know certainly is not worth the criminals' time.

SQL injection attacks ring a bell?
That's something server admins and programmers have to care for. Not the common user.

Glad you didn't mention my OS. I won't either. :)
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
Glad you didn't mention my OS. I won't either. :)


Too late. You already did.

And I might point out that Bill worked on that one also.

Ethelred
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2009
And I might point out that Bill worked on that one also.
Yes - back in the times when he declared it to be "the best OS of all times". :) But then he took the road to world domination instead ...
dtxx
not rated yet Nov 19, 2009
Actually there are PLENTY of Macs out there to make it worthwhile, and as stated, Mac users tend to have that false sense of invulnerability that can be used against them. I'd rather go for the smaller payday, stay low-key, and hopefully not wind up the subject of a physorg article!

The theory I heard says that the majority of Macs are laptops and people don't tend to leave them on constantly like some do with desktops. In general laptops are not a desireable target, regardless of the OS.

Also, regardless of platform, no one is currently capable of writing error-free code. That is one of the fundamental vulnerabilities of all OSs.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 20, 2009
But then he took the road to world domination instead ...


As opposed to allowing IBM to:

Underpay MS to slit its own throat AND THEN
continue World Domination by I Be Megalomaniac.

Instead we got Windows 95.

Bill would have had to be a friggin idiot to have kept on going with IBM at that point. He saw the future. True he saw it at Apple, that saw it at Xerox PARC, but unlike IBM he did see it.

IBM saw a monolithic bloc of PCs totally controlled by IBM's OS and beholden to IBM's newly CLOSED hardware.

And IBM saw it was good. For IBM.

But they lost.

Besides AMIGA had the better OS.

Have I ever mentioned the Pentium Group here? Who do you think controls the Bavarian Illuminati anyway? Even the BI uses PCs these days. Just ask Dan Brown.

Ethelred
GregHight
not rated yet Nov 22, 2009
I get so tired of the snarky ac people. If Macs were that great , they would DOMINATE the computer world. The ONLY reason that they don't have as many viruses and malware problems is because Macs represent such a small proportion of the market. Who is going to go through the trouble to write code that only attacks 10 % of the computers out there?

The only reason theat the artsy, tatoo nosering crowd likes Macs is because they are "different".
Husky
not rated yet Nov 23, 2009
Look at apple product that actually is widespread, the I-phone ---> Worms, do the math
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2009
The only reason theat the artsy, tatoo nosering crowd likes Macs is because they are "different".


Speaking of snarky. And such inaccurate snark.

The Mac's original Killer Ap was publishing software. The Mac has always been better geared to the creative types. That is artist creative types.

If Macs were that great , they would DOMINATE the computer world


Only if they cost a lot less.

The Mac is also inherently harder to suborn then the PC because it's Unix base is more modular then the PC. When Bill decided that he needed to claim that Internet Explorer was in inextricably part of the OS he actually tried to force it that way. Thus making the OS more vulnerable in the process.

However it still can be hacked and the main reason it isn't done much is as you, and I, said.

Ethelred
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2009
But then he took the road to world domination instead ...
As opposed to allowing IBM to:
Underpay MS to slit its own throat AND THEN
continue World Domination by I Be Megalomaniac.
We should judge companies by what they have done and not by what they could have done. We should consider merits (GMR someone?), too, if we don't want to be biased.
Besides AMIGA had the better OS.
Sure, but they weren't greedy enough. It isn't always the best that survives - it is only the fittest for market domination.