Scareware crackdown results in equipment seizure
June 28, 2011
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Last Wednesday, there was a coordinated operation named Trident Tribunal between the American Department of Justice (DoJ) and the FBI and assisted by police agencies in 11 other countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Latvia, Germany, France, Lithuania and Sweden. During the operation two Latvians were arrested and 22 computers were seized in the US and 25 from abroad as part of a crackdown on online malicious scareware software.
“The operation targeted international cybercrime rings that caused more than $74m [£46.3m] in total losses to more than one million computer users through the sale of fraudulent computer security software known as ‘scareware’,” the agencies said in a statement.
Scareware is software that pretends to detect malware on computers and urges users to purchase fraudulent antivirus software to remove the non-existent threats. On 18 June Microsoft warned of a similar scam where phishers, posing as security experts, attempted to get users to download malicious software to deal with the supposed ‘threats’. I have of course mentioned several postings regarding the MacDefender Trojan which relies on users to download the software upon visiting poisoned sites.
This case shows that strong national and global partners can ensure there is no sanctuary for cyber-crooks. – Jenny Durkan, US attorney for the Western District of Washington
The two Latvians were indicted for creating a fraudulent web advertisement that was run on the website of the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper. Once the advert was live, Peteris Sahurovs, 22, and Marina Maslobojeva, 23, tweaked the code so that visitors’ computers were infected with scareware. Anyone who did not pay but had downloaded the code was bombarded with pop-ups warning them about the supposed security issues.
If convicted, the two men face up to 20 years in prison.