Cybercrime forum suspects arrested by British police

Britain’s Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) have announced today that they have arrested two men as part of an eight month investigation into what is said to be the world’s largest English-speaking online cybercrime forum.

The underground website consisted of online forums where up to 8000 malicious hackers traded stolen bank account details, PIN details, phished passwords, offered to rent out botnets for the purposes of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and openly sold data stolen by the insidious Zbot (also known as Zeus) family of malware.

For instance, we’ve seen criminals rent out access to botnets of 10,000 compromised PCs to launch DDoS attacks for $200 per day.

The two men, aged 17 and 18, were arrested by appointment at a central London police station and currently remain in custody.

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Computer crime investigators say they have so far recovered more than 65,000 compromised card numbers, estimating £7.9 million (US $11.8 million) worth of losses in relation to the card numbers alone.

The police clearly believe that they have arrested two men who are major players in the operation of cybercrime forums. What may surprise some is that the men arrested aren’t hardened conventional criminals, but young men still in their teens.

A clear message needs to go out to people of all ages that just because you are committing a crime via the internet, doesn’t make it any less of a crime.

Disappointingly, it was recently revealed that the PCeU’s budget has been slashed as part of a wave of government cutbacks. One has to wonder if the British government is treating internet security and online crime-fighting with as much seriousness as the problem deserves.

Nevertheless, the authorities should be applauded for investigating the underground websites which assist internet fraudsters, and for disrupting their activities before they can impact more innocent people and businesses around the world.

The more underground cybercrime forums that are closed down, the less places the online criminals have to hide.

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Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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