Dutch trio 'hacked 1.5m personal computers'

7th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

UPDATED 20 October 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch authorities say hackers harnessed the power of 1.5 million personal computers to steal internet banking data.

UPDATED 20 October 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch authorities say hackers harnessed the power of 1.5 million personal computers to steal internet banking data.

When the men were arrested earlier this month it was suggested they had taken control of 100,000 computers, making this one of the largest 'zombie' networks ever discovered.

But detectives discovered about 1.5 million computers were involved as they worked to trace and dismantle the illegal network, the public prosecutor said on Thursday. It is estimated that 300,000 computers were hacked in the Netherlands alone.

A court in the Dutch town of Breda extended the detention of the main suspect, 19, from Loon op Zand by 30 days on Wednesday. A co-accused from Tilburg, aged 22, is also to stay in custody for another 30 days while the investigation continues. A 27-year-old man from Rijswijk was released from custody for personal reasons.

When they were arrested earlier in October, more arrests were anticipated. The public prosecutor said further arrests have yet to be made but would take place.

The Tilburg man is suspected of involvement in the case in which an US firm faced blackmail and having its computer network hacked. The three suspects are under investigation for a similar threat against another company in the US.

Dutch police said the suspects hijacked computers to form one of the largest 'zombie networks' ever uncovered. The system installed spyware on other computers to steal internet banking data, detectives suspect.

Detectives believe the hackers used 'Trojans' to install a programme called Toxbot to secretly take control of thousands of computers and track the keystrokes of the unsuspecting user. Advertisements were also installed on some of the computers infected.

The hackers continually updated the virus to get around updated anti-virus programmes. In the Netherlands alone, several thousands of computers, with insufficient anti-virus protection, were infected.

Detectives suspect the hackers may have been paid to program the virus. A company in the US was allegedly blackmailed with threats of an attack on its computer network. The suspects are also accused of plundering accounts in the online payment system PayPal.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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