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F-Secure Labs Security Review 2010, Part 1: Hypponen applauds law enforcement for bringing cybercriminals to justice

Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, applauds the work of law enforcement officials around the world for the increase in arrests seen in the first part of 2010.

Helsinki, Finland – May 12, 2010: The year 2010 has begun with significant success in arresting and prosecuting cybercriminals in different countries. F-Secure hopes that a permanent shift has been seen in the ability of law enforcement to identify, capture and prosecute cybercriminals.

Malware, which used to be written by hobbyists, became a vast profit-driven business controlled by criminals around 2003. However, for years the transition of malware from an online annoyance to criminal activity was not reflected by the number of arrests and convictions of the perpetrators. In the rare cases that people were caught and prosecuted, the sentences were hardly punitive.

Mikko Hypponen says, “Antivirus companies are not the police but we always provide the material uncovered by our investigations into cybercrime to the authorities so they can take action. It’s great to see this is having an effect and we hope that the new level of arrests and punitive sentencing represents a permanent shift in the way cybercrime is tackled.”

In a landmark case in March 2010, Alfredo Gonzales received a 20 year jail sentence for being the ringleader of a gang that hacked tens of millions of credit card records from TJ Maxx and several other US retailers. This is the longest sentence ever passed in a cyber crime case. Gonzales and his gang members gained access into the authentication systems of the retailers’ cash registers by hacking into their wi-fi. Millions of credit cards had to be re-issued as a result.

Other notable cases in 2010 include the sentencing of Renu Subramaniam, aka JiLsi, one of the online criminals from Darkmarket, to almost five years in prison in the UK. In Estonia, the author of the Allaple virus family, Artur Boiko, was found guilty and sentenced to 2 years and 7 months in prison.

In addition, over 70 members of a phishing gang have been arrested in Romania thanks to cooperation with Russian authorities. Russia has long been viewed as something of a safe haven for cyber criminals, so this development is encouraging in many respects.

“Online crime is no longer a risk free business. Crime is crime after all. It was only a matter of time before law enforcement started catching up and we hope that news of arrests and convictions become commonplace,” Hypponen adds.

For additional analysis on security developments during the first part of the year, visit www.youtube.com/FSecureNews to view 3 videos on “Mobile Phone Security”, “Crime and Punishment” and “Targeted Attacks and Operation Aurora”.

You can follow Mikko Hypponen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mikkohypponen

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