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Sophos Reports: Teenager allegedly headed international hacking ring

November 2007 by Sophos

IT security and control firm Sophos has welcomed news that a teenager from New Zealand, believed to be the brains behind an international cyber gang, has been arrested.

The gang was allegedly responsible for infecting more then one million computers, stealing bank and credit card information, and embezzling more than USD 20 million. It is suspected that the teenager, known only by his cyber moniker ’AKILL’ was the head of the gang and began his hacking activity while still at school.

According to reports, the arrest, which is part of a international crackdown on cybercrime, came about following a joint operation between the FBI and police authorities in New Zealand and the Netherlands. Possible charges against the teenager could include unauthorised access to computers and possessing computer hacking tools - charges that carry a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. The teenager has been released without charge, but is reported to be helping police further with their investigations.

"Most of the time, today’s cybercrime is no longer spotty teenagers simply intent on demonstrating their computing prowess; rather, it is gangs run by sophisticated criminals for financial gain," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "This case shows a merging of these two profiles. Whoever is responsible, this arrest shows that international cooperation by the authorities can work. Tackling cybercrime and ensuring appropriately severe convictions are handed out to guilty parties sends a strong message to cyber gangs: we will find you and when we do, you will face the consequences."

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses.

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