Teenager allegedly headed international hacking ring, Sophos comments

Sophos Press Release

Gang accused of embezzling more than $20 million

Botnet computers under the remote control of a hacker can be used for the purposes of sending spam and identity theft. Image copyright (c) Sophos
Botnet computers under the remote control of a hacker can be used for the purposes of sending spam and identity theft.

IT security and control firm Sophos has welcomed news that a teenager from New Zealand, believed to be the brains behind an international cyber gang, has been arrested.

The gang was allegedly responsible for infecting more then one million computers, stealing bank and credit card information, and embezzling more than USD 20 million. It is suspected that the teenager, known only by his cyber moniker 'AKILL' was the head of the gang and began his hacking activity while still at school.

According to reports, the arrest, which is part of a international crackdown on cybercrime, came about following a joint operation between the FBI and police authorities in New Zealand and the Netherlands. Possible charges against the teenager could include unauthorised access to computers and possessing computer hacking tools - charges that carry a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. The teenager has been released without charge, but is reported to be helping police further with their investigations.

"Most of the time, today's cybercrime is no longer spotty teenagers simply intent on demonstrating their computing prowess; rather, it is gangs run by sophisticated criminals for financial gain," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "This case shows a merging of these two profiles. Whoever is responsible, this arrest shows that international cooperation by the authorities can work. Tackling cybercrime and ensuring appropriately severe convictions are handed out to guilty parties sends a strong message to cyber gangs: we will find you and when we do, you will face the consequences."

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More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos’ complete security solutions as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Simple to deploy, manage, and use, Sophos’ award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions are backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers. Sophos is headquartered in Oxford, U.K., and is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange under the symbol “SOPH.” More information is available at www.sophos.com/company.