Internet Crime Ring Brought Down in Spain

Published Thursday, March 04, 2010 -

Internet criminals have reportedly infected as many as 12.7 million computers according to the Associated press. Authorities in Europe have finally brought down one of the world's worst cases of theft of sensitive information on the internet. The system stole credit cards and online banking information from infected computers around the globe.

Dubbed the 'Mariposa' botnet, the virus has infected at least half of the Fortune 1000 firms and more than 40 banks. According to investigators in Spain in co-operation with private computer-security firms, they say they have three alleged ringleaders in custody after cracking the largest incidence of cyber crime ever experienced. A captain with Spain's Guardia Civil, Cesar Lorenza, told the Associated press, that the arrests of cyber criminals is a rare event and is significant. The suspects in this case were not smart hackers but were associated with some people who were and they are the ones still at large. This criminal enterprise surfaced way back in December of 2008 and the masterminds have been building their network of information gathering botnets ever since. The article revealed that the suspects were not flashy criminals with big cars and fine clothes but were seemingly ordinary Spaniards with no criminal past. According to researchers the criminal activity spread to more than 190 countries.
Software firm Panda Security headquartered in Bilbao, Spain was a partner in bringing down these botnet operators, along with information from Canadian based Defence Intelligence and researchers from the Georgia Tech Information Security Center. Senior research adviser with Panda Security, Pedro Bustamante, said, "I don't think there's anything about this guy that makes him smarter than any of the other botnet guys, but the Mariposa software, it's very professional, it's very effective," adding, "It came alive and started spreading and it got bigger than him." The three individuals "netkairo," 31; "jonyloleante," 30; and "ostiator," 25 if convicted may face six years in jail. It is not known yet how much money the group stole of whether any of the funds will be recovered.



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