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Sophos: Teenage hacking gang busted in Bavaria

May 2008 by Sophos

IT security and control firm Sophos has welcomed news that German authorities have apprehended eleven people suspected of running a hacking ring.

According to media reports, police arrested suspects aged between 15 and 22 years old in Baden-Württemberg, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, and confiscated computers for forensic examination. Ausberg police spokesman Manfred Gottschalk has said that seven of the suspects are under 18 years of age.

The gang is reported to have been based around an internet forum called ’hacksector’ which boasted more than 33,000 members. Authorities claim that the German-language site’s main discussions were around hacking and the exchange of stolen credit card information. There was also information published explaining how to create fake German identity cards within minutes.

"Although the internet is by-and-large a wonderful thing, there are some corners of the worldwide web which are dedicated to crime. The price of freedom-of-speech is that sites exist where people are given free reign to discuss how to make other peoples’ lives a misery," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Businesses and home users alike need to be on their guard against emerging internet threats, as criminals become ever more organised in their attempts to separate us from our belongings."

Police are now examining the 20 computers, numerous external hard drives and approximately 1,000 CDs they confiscated during the raids, as they investigate whether the teenage gang were intending to steal personal information from innocent computer users.

Sophos experts report that this is just the latest in a string of arrests made by police around the world in their fight against organised cybercriminals. For instance, in February, Sophos reported how 17 alleged hackers had been apprehended by police in Quebec, Canada.

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