Police seize hard drives as virus inquiry spreads

31st May 2005, Comments 0 comments

31 May 2005, ROTTWEIL - German police said on Tuesday they had seized data storage devices with room for 560 gigabytes of information, as an inquiry spreads into industrial espionage using a computer virus attributed to Israeli programmer Michael Haephrati.

31 May 2005

ROTTWEIL - German police said on Tuesday they had seized data storage devices with room for 560 gigabytes of information, as an inquiry spreads into industrial espionage using a computer virus attributed to Israeli programmer Michael Haephrati.

The London-based computer specialist was arrested last week and is awaiting an extradition hearing. Israeli media have reported since Sunday that the spy ring targeted a range of major companies.

British reports say there have been 16 arrests internationally. Like a telephone bug, the virus could monitor whatever senior executives were reading on their desktop computers and pass this information on to private eyes working for competitors.

Police near Stuttgart confirmed they had searched Haephrati's German home but did not say when. They identified him only as "Michael H. aged 41" who had recently stayed in the German district of Freudenstadt and was the alleged ringleader of the group.

They took away the data storage devices and other material. The quantity of 560 gigabytes is seven times the size of hard drives on current personal computers. The virus allegedly transported secret information from victims' computers to the data thieves.

Israeli reports say the trick was to hide the 'Trojan horse' virus on a promotional CD, which was sent to various companies where curious executives played it and unknowingly infected their networks.

Because it was unique and not spread via the internet, Haephrati's virus was immune to anti-virus software. Three of Israel's leading private investigation companies were allegedly Haephrati's clients.

The police investigation, code-named 'Horse Race', reportedly began in November last year when an Israeli novelist, Amnon Jacont, complained that portions of his latest novel had appeared on the internet, even though it had not yet been published.

DPA

Subject: German news

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