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British Police Arrested Couple for Spreading Zeus Trojan

British Police stated on November 18, 2009 that they had arrested two individuals for spreading Zbot or Zeus, an advanced malware capable of extracting sensitive details from a user's computer.

The duo, husband and wife, both aged 20, were arrested on November 3, 2009 in Manchester, England, stated the Metropolitan PCeU (Police's Central e-Crime Unit). Although the couple is currently free on bail, they will be eventually tried under the 1990 Computer Misuse Act along with the 2006 Fraud Act.

Talking about Zeus, it is a highly sophisticated malware that users frequently download on their computers unknowingly, following a social engineering tactic or phishing, which impersonates credit card companies, tax offices, banks, or some other entity known to victims, luring them to follow malevolent links or to go to malware-ridden websites. During one such assault, a variant of Zeus mimicked an e-mail of an organization's IT unit and directed the user that he must update his Web-mail configurations with Microsoft.

Once placed on a user's system, Zeus creeps inside IE or other browser of the victim where it monitors the traffic. Thereafter, it copies Social Security numbers, credit card details as well as credentials for online banking, other financial accounts and corporate login details that it then transmits to its remote controller, according to investigators at the security firm BitDefender.

Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos (an antivirus firm) states that Zeus isn't merely an isolated malware, rather it is a group consisting of several other members, each disguising differently and try to infect end-users as well as to steal their confidential data, which could enable attackers to hack into the victims' social-networking and bank accounts, as reported by TheRegister on November 18, 2009.

According to officials in London, individuals and organizations that were infected by Zbot suffered significant monetary losses while those responsible for spreading the malware enjoyed enormous financial gains.

Additionally, the arrest is the first of its kind in Europe and also across the globe in relation to the Zeus Trojan, they said.

Related article: British Telecommunications Introduces New anti-spam System

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