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04 Apr 2006

International phishing gang busted by police

Criminal gang is said to have planned to use Trojan horses and spam

Phishers steal money and confidential data from internet users. Image copyright (c) Sophos
Phishers steal money and confidential data from internet users.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed the news that German authorities have arrested members of a suspected international phishing gang.

Germany's Federal Crime Office (known as the BKA) announced on its website, that seven men aged between 21 and 47 years old, have been arrested in connection with a plot to plunder the bank accounts of online surfers.

The BKA claims that they stopped the German-Lithuanian gang as they were about to launch their criminal activity by spamming phishing emails and distributing Trojan horses that would have stolen passwords and TANs (single-use TransAction Numbers) from innocent online bankers.

Police officers, who have been investigating the case since December 2005, searched six flats in Frankfurt, Wetzlar, Gießen, Stauffenberg, Lich and Allendorf, in their hunt for evidence. According to the BKA the gang opened a plethora of bank accounts using faked names and addresses, and planned to transfer stolen money to Eastern Europe.

"The German police should be applauded for arresting these men before the alleged criminal plot was put into action," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The potential rewards for internet crime are high, and we are seeing organized international gangs becoming more sophisticated in the ways in which they attempt to steal information from online banking users. Computer crime authorities around the world need to work closely with each other to break apart these criminal gangs and bring them to justice."

Sophos experts encourage all computer users to ensure they have the proper defenses in place to minimize the chances of attack.

"All computer users should be running an up-to-date anti-virus as well as protecting their PC with a firewall. This, combined with the safe computing practice of exercising caution over what you choose to run on your computer, can dramatically reduce the risks," continued Cluley.

Sophos recommends companies protect their email with a consolidated solution to thwart the virus and spam threats and secure their desktops and servers with automatically updated anti-virus protection.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.