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Cybercriminals be afraid. Be very afraid. It’s not just the FBI, Interpol, Scotland Yard, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and New York’s Finest dogging your trail. Now, there’s the Microsoft Police.
Okay, they’re not police. But Microsoft’s MARS (the Microsoft Active Response for Security) fingered Yevhen Kulibaba and Yuriy Konovalenko, already guests of the UK penal system. MARS says these men took part in Zeus Trojan banking cybercrimes that reputedly cost financial institutions more than $100 million.
A pcmag.com article describes how the Zeus Trojan works. “The banking Trojan records a computer user’s keystrokes, and then allows access to usernames and passwords for theft of victims’ identities and bank accounts. Once installed, the malware automatically begins hacking, without the user’s knowledge.”
Microsoft said defendants presumably including the two gentlemen in the UK slammer violated Federal and state laws by operating a computer botnet through Internet domains and IP addresses, “causing unlawful intrusion, intellectual property violations and dissemination of unsolicited bulk email” toward Microsoft and its customers.
Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit senior attorney Richard Domingues Boscovich pointed out that Microsoft’s goal was to disrupt the Zeus, making it a lot more expensive for cybercriminals to do business. Zeus botnets created by cybercriminals using Zeus infection crimeware kits can, according to Microsoft, sell for between $700 and $15,000. Users can create malware, spam campaigns, and server software to keep an eye on infected computers. Microsoft neglected to mention whether the botnets came with a limited or lifetime warranty.
In March, when C&C (command and control) servers controlling the infected computers were seized, Microsoft reported a 57 percent drop in worldwide Zeus infections in the succeeding three months. That must’ve hit cyberthieves like one of Zeus’s lightning bolts.