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21 Dec 2006

German gang jailed for creating 12 million Euro Trojan horse

Porn dialer infected more than 100,000 PCs

Behind bars
The jailed gang infected computers with a Trojan horse that made premium rate telephone calls.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed the sentencing to jail of two men who infected more than 100,000 computers with a Trojan horse that generated more than 12 million Euros ($15.8 million).

A court in Osnabrück sentenced one of the men to 4 years in jail, and the other to a 39 month sentence, for their part in a criminal scheme that subverted innocent internet users' PCs with a Trojan horse that dialled premium rate 0190 phone numbers to contact a pornographic website. The men, one aged 31 and the other 35 years old, generated over 12 million Euros in income from the premium rate phone calls made via infected PCs' modems between July 2002 - September 2003.

"These hackers infected a staggering 100,000 PCs and forced them to dial a premium rate number to make them cold, hard cash. The German authorities have done well in bringing these offenders to justice," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "All computer users need to put in place a proper defense to ensure their computers do not become targeted by internet criminals. Every PC should be properly defended by up-to-date anti-virus software, firewalls, and the latest security patches."

Such was the scale of the operation that the prosecution asked the court to fine the men 7.75 million Euros in addition to the jail sentence, however this request was rejected for legal reasons.

In the summer, two other men were jailed for 18 and 22 months in connection with the case.

"Other hackers should look long and hard at the punishment these men have received and ask themselves whether they really think internet crime is a career they wish to continue pursuing," continued Cluley.

Sophos recommends that all computer users should ensure that they are running an automatically updated anti-virus product, security patches and firewall software.

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.