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FBI arrests Kiwi in global Facebook ring

14 Dec 2012

At least one New Zealander has been arrested after a FBI-led investigation into a cybercrime ring costing Facebook users NZ$1 billion reached a head yesterday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested ten suspects from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

"The operation identified international cyber crime rings that are linked to multiple variants of the Yahos malicious software, or malware, which is linked to more than 11 million compromised computer systems and over $850 million in losses via the Butterfly Botnet, which steals computer users’ credit card, bank account, and other personal identifiable information," the FBI said.

Made up of compromised computer systems, "botnets" can be utilised by cyber criminals to execute distributed denial of service attacks, send spam e-mails, and conduct underground organised criminal activity, to include malware distribution.

"Facebook’s security team provided assistance to law enforcement throughout the investigation by helping to identify the root cause, the perpetrators, and those affected by the malware," the FBI said.

"Yahos targeted Facebook users from 2010 to October 2012, and security systems were able to detect affected accounts and provide tools to remove these threats."

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Cyber Division and International Operations Division while receiving international cooperation from countries including New Zealand Police in the case.

"It is recommended that computer users update their applications and operating system on a regular basis to reduce the risk of compromise and perform regular anti-virus scanning of their computer system," the FBI said.

"It is also helpful to disconnect personal computers from the Internet when the machines are not in use."

The FBI says computer users who believe they have been victimised should file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov

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