Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Major Zeus Bust in the UK: Nineteen Zbot Thieves Arrested

The Metropolitan Police are to be congratulated this morning on the largest Zeus arrest to date. News broke on September 28th that the Met's PCeU Police Central e-crime Unit had arrested nineteen criminals in relation to a large Zeus or Zbot trojan network.

The Daily Mail has a set of great pictures of the criminals being taken into custody from their homes in their story, Hi-tech crime police quiz 19 people over internet bank scam that netted hackers up to £20m from British accounts. Police raided the homes simultaneously in the pre-dawn hours on Tuesday. These two pictures are part of five you can find there:

In case you don't travel much, £20 million pounds is a lot of money. That's roughly $31 Million USD. The criminals were stealing "about two million pounds per month". For comparison, the FBI released second quarter bank theft numbers last week. From April 1 to June 31 there were 1135 bank robberies and eleven bank burglaries in the United States, which earned criminals only $8 million USD or £5 million pounds.

In otherwords, this one Zeus gang stole more money in three months than ALL TRADITIONAL BANK ROBBERIES in the United States during the same length of time.

Although many folks haven't heard of the PCeU, their Mission Statement is
To improve the police response to victims of e-crime by developing the capability of the Police Service across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, co-ordinating the law enforcement approach to all types of e-crime, and by providing a national investigative capability for the most serious e-crime incidents.

15 men and 4 women were arrested, ranging in age from 23 to 47 years old. Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson of the Metropolitan Police credits the arrest to a Virtual Task Force composed of law enforcement, computer experts, and bank security personnel who worked together to track the movements of the criminals. Sounds a lot like the InfraGard model to me -- a private public partnership anchored on the FBI where computer security experts and personnel working in Critical Infrastructures, such as the Financial Industry, share information to stop criminals and terrorists.

Despite their financial success, the Daily Mail reports that the ringleader, "in his 20s, and his wife, an accomplice in the scam, were arrested in an unremarkable third-floor flat in Chingford, Essex.

Despite this raid, there are still at least 162 "online" Zeus servers that continue to gather stolen credentials from compromised computers, according to the invaluable ZeusTracker service.

We've documented dozens of stories in this blog about Zeus over the past year, and are excited to see this most significant law enforcement action to date.

The clock is ticking . . . who is going to have the best arrest before we all meet up in three weeks?

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