Hackers robbing millions from web users

CeBIT 2008: Security guru warns of super-intelligent cyber-criminals

We met Mikko Hyppönen at CeBIT yesterday. He’s the chief research officer at security software company, F-Secure. He told us many stories about how cyber-criminals are using ever-more ingenious methods to steal money from unsuspecting web users.

Hyppönen demonstrated how hackers can now use extraordinarily complex Trojans and rootkits to hack your computer, and hijack your online banking transactions. Millions of pounds are stolen from people in this way who have no idea what’s going on under their noses.

He also warned that online poker players are now ripe targets for cyber-criminals looking to steal money. They use Trojans to steal hundreds of thousands of euros at a time from professional poker players who can’t work out why they keep losing.

And he also described how mobile phones are now seriously at risk from getting viruses. He said that using very basic software your partner could easily spy on you, accessing all your calls, texts and emails. They can even tell exactly where you are on the globe.

Millions to be made in phishing

“There’s loads of other bad things you can do, too,” he told TechRadar. “There’s a Russian website which charges as little as 20 US dollars to launch a denial of service attack on any website of your choosing. It’s called infectedteam.net and it’s a gang operating from St. Petersburg.

“It costs 20 bucks for one hour; 100 bucks for a whole day. And if you’re unsure whether this actually works or not, they will give you a free 10 minute attack.”

Hyppönen showed us a startling picture on his laptop screen – a photograph of 10,000 $100 bills neatly stacked up in small piles on a bedroom floor.

“This picture was taken from a server of a phishing gang that was arrested. And when doing a forensic examination of the server, among the things we found was a deleted folder containing deleted images from a digital camera. It’s about 2 million dollars in hundred dollar bills. So you can see how much money can be accumulated by organized cyber criminals,” he said.


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James (Twitter, ) oversees the reviews we publish on the site and also edits the TV, AV, Gaming, Car Tech and Gadgets channels. He's been in the field for 13 years, and travels all over the world to attend tech shows, product launches and cult gatherings. James' opinions have been inflicted on audiences of BBC TV, Radio 5 Live, The Guardian, local radio and various magazines and he's a grizzled veteran of most tech shows but will never again to return to CeBIT (no means no).