Jun 07, 2013

    FBI and Microsoft disrupt cyber-ring

    MICROSOFT said on Wednesday that it had teamed up with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to disrupt armies of hacked computers used to commit financial fraud totalling more than US$500 million (S$624 million) worldwide.

    A strike coordinated with police and financial institutions disabled more than 1,000 "botnets" used by a global cybercrime operation to steal people's banking information and identities, according to the software colossus.

    Botnets are networks of computers infected with viruses that let them be controlled by hackers.

    "Crimes used to happen through stick-ups, but, today, criminals use mouse clicks," said former United States Department of Homeland Security official Greg Garcia, a consultant who spoke for financial-industry associations.

    An investigation launched early last year led Microsoft and its allies to a malicious software called Citadel, which monitors keystrokes on infected machines and sends information such as account names and passwords to hackers.

    Cybercriminals used stolen passwords to take money from online bank accounts, according to Microsoft.

    Citadel malware has infected millions of computers in more than 90 countries and territories, with the highest numbers of infections found in Europe, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Australia and the US, Microsoft said.