Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global
network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have welcomed
the news that French authorities have arrested a total of 22 people
suspected of running an international hacking gang that broke into
business networks in France and overseas.
According to French
media reports, the 22 alleged hackers were arrested in Paris,
southern and central France following a four month investigation
involving over 90 members of the police force.
The arrested members of the alleged gang are said to be all
under 25 years of age, with one reported to be only 13 years old.
According to media reports, the gang were members of an internet
forum of some 200 hackers where they were seen bragging about their
Police have said that it is not clear at the moment what the
motivation for the hacking was, although some data was reportedly
destroyed on company networks. If found guilty of destroying data
and degrading network performance in affected companies the hackers
could face a maximum of five years in jail.
"One of the disturbing facts about this story is that 16 of the
22 people arrested are under 18 years old," said Graham Cluley, senior
technology consultant for Sophos. "While the authorities must be
applauded for investigating cases like this, we should also
question what is going wrong with our education of young people to
make them think that computer hacking might be an acceptable way to
behave. More has to be done to teach children in school how to use
their computer skills responsibly."
According to official statements, 34 businesses in France,
Iceland and Russia were allegedly affected by the hacking, but at
present only seven firms have registered a formal complaint.
"Companies not only need to be on their guard to defend their
systems against cybercriminals and internet hackers, they must also
be prepared to report crimes when they occur," explained Cluley.
"If individuals and businesses don't come forward and report an
offense, the authorities can find it hard to put together a
concrete case against the perpetrators."
Sophos recommends all computer users protect themselves with a
consolidated solution which can control network access
and defend their networks, email and web gateways against the
threats of hackers, malware, spyware and spam.