Spyware allows remote hackers to steal confidential information
from other PCs.
Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global
network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have reminded
computer users of the perils of spyware and phishing, following the
arrest of an international gang who raided online bank
Police in the Turkish city of Izmir have arrested 17 members of
a gang who broke into online bank accounts and stole $300,000 from
internet users. Law enforcement agencies claim that the gang worked
alongside three Russian hackers, who provided them with banking
usernames and passwords stolen through spyware.
The Russian hackers are said to have shared the password
information of thousands of unsuspecting Turkish internet users in
exchange for 10% of the money stolen.
Reports in the Turkish
media say that hundreds of internet users began to complain
about unexpected withdrawals from their online bank accounts in
January. A 20-strong team of the Izmir Organized Crime Bureau
investigated the case, discovered the IP addresses of the computers
making the illegal transactions, and made simultaneous raids at
different addresses in Izmir, Fethiye, Didim and Kusadasi.
"In recent years there has been a growth in the number of
viruses and Trojan horses written specifically to steal banking
information from web surfers. Spyware can silently hide on a user's
computer waiting for them to type in their confidential information
and then surreptiously share it with the hackers," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "The Turkish authorities should
be applauded for looking into this case so speedily, but this is
just the tip of the iceberg. Phishing and spyware is a global
problem, and all computer users need to defend themselves better
against these kind of menaces if they want to continue to bank
Names of the three suspected Russian hackers have been shared
with Interpol. Sophos experts noted in the Sophos
Security Threat Report 2007 that Russia is one of the top
producers of malware, accounting for 4.1% of all malware authored
during the last year.
Sophos experts encourage all computer users to learn how to
reduce the risk
of having online banking information stolen from them. The firm
also recommends that companies protect their desktops, servers and
gateways with a consolidated solution to
thwart the threats of viruses, spyware, phishing and spam.