Computer users have under two weeks to save themselves from a cyber attack blamed for millions of pounds of fraud across the world.
The National Crime Agency teamed up with the FBI and other cybercrime experts to take down a criminal network’s ‘command-and-control’ – but admit they cannot keep it down for long.
More than 15,500 British computers have already been invaded. Many more, running on Windows, remain under threat from ‘botnets’, which can steal money from accounts without users’ knowledge.
In the US alone, gangs are thought to have taken $500million in fraudulent transactions in 2013.
It is not just bank details being targeted; webcams can be used to spy on you, and criminals may also seek to gain money through holding photographs, email accounts or information to ransom.
The gangs are thought to be based in Russia or Eastern Europe, using malware such as Gameover Zeus, GOZeus, or P2PZeus, and ransomware CryptoLocker. The FBI last night described the alleged ringleader, Evgeniy Bogachev, as one of the most active cyber criminals in the world and issued a ‘most wanted’ poster to seek his arrest.
The criminal network was discovered in 2011, and seizing it temporarily in Operation Tovar is said to have been ‘extremely costly’.
The NCA urged people to tighten their software security. It said its warning was not intended to cause panic but added: ‘We cannot over-stress the importance of taking these steps immediately.’
Steve Rawlinson, whose company Tagadab helped target the network said the criminals could get around the take-down in as little as a week. ‘The scale of this operation is unprecedented,’ he added.