M00P virus-writing gang busted

IT security firm Sophos has welcomed news that authorities in the UK and Finland have arrested three men in connection with computer worm attacks.

The Metropolitan Police’s Computer Crime Unit, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI Finland) and the Finnish Pori Police Department, have arrested a 63-year-old man in Suffolk, a 28-year-old man in Scotland, and a 19-year-old man in Finland. The men, who are all suspected of being members of the M00P virus-writing gang, have been arrested in connection with a conspiracy to infect computers with malware.

“The police in the UK and Finland should be congratulated for investigating this computer crime ring and breaking up the gang before it can do any more harm to innocent web surfers and businesses,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “It’s great to see one less virus writing gang, but the sad fact is, however, that this is probably just the tip of the iceberg. More and more criminals around the globe are being tempted by the anonymity the internet offers to commit their crimes online. A strong message needs to be sent out that those who engage in malicious computer attacks will receive severe punishment.”

The virus writing gang is believed to have chosen the name of their group after an episode of the South Park cartoon series where the characters formed a band called ‘Moop’. The episode involved some non-too-subtle arguments about how file sharing affects the music industry.

The group are believed to have written malware in order to create a zombie network (or botnet) of compromised computers under their control.

“Zombie computers can be used by criminal hackers to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks, spread spam messages or to steal confidential information and commit identity theft,” continued Cluley. “Every computer owner needs to take steps to reduce the chances of their computer being turned into a zombie under the control of hackers.”

Sophos continues to recommend that companies protect all tiers of their organisation – their desktops, servers and email gateways – with automatically updated and fully integrated malware protection to reduce the risk of infection.

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