The U.S. has charged seven people with a ‘massive’ computer intrusion scheme involving malicious software to manipulate online advertising and divert users to infected servers. Over 4 million computers were infected across 100 countries according to Bloomberg.
A Russian and six Estonians have been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy in a 27 count indictment. The victims included at least half a million individuals, businesses in the U.S. and government agencies which included the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The ‘information technology’ company which was based in Estonia have made millions of dollars by manipulating the internet searches of infected systems by redirecting people to sites they have never intended to visit or by swapping out advertisements on web pages.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said “We believe this criminal case is the first of its kind and arises from a cyber infrastructure of the first order. The defendants were cyber-bandits who hijacked those computers at will, controlling and masquerading as legitimate Internet websites.”
The investigation started two years ago after NASA discovered a virus on more than 100 of its computers. Bharara said that the government ‘pulled the plug’ yesterday at 3am on rogue data servers the hackers used in New York and other cities in America. The government are seeking forfeiture of at least $14 million.
Bloomberg add “Malicious software, also known as malware, was typically placed on computers after Internet users visited certain websites or downloaded software to view videos online, authorities said.
Users of infected computers were surreptitiously directed from legitimate websites to rogue computer servers, called “click hijacking,” thereby generating revenue for the defendants’ multibillion dollar Internet advertising business, the U.S. said.
For example, a user with an infected computer might perform a Google search for “iTunes” and click on the resulting link to Apple Inc.’s iTunes, only to be sent to another site, the U.S. said. The malware also “hijacked” people looking for the Netflix Inc. and Internal Revenue Service sites, according to the indictment.”
Kitguru says: We can’t imagine too many people will be sorry to see these people charged.