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Europol Dismantles RAMNIT Botnet That Infected Millions of Computers

A cybercrime operation that stole banking information by hacking more than 3 million computers has been disrupted by European police.
/ Source: Reuters

A cybercrime operation that stole banking information by hacking more than 3 million computers in Indonesia, India and other countries has been disrupted by European police, officials said on Wednesday. The European Cybercrime Center at Europol, the European police agency, coordinated the operation out of its headquarters in The Hague, targeting the Ramnit botnet, a network of computers infected with malware. Working with investigators from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain, it was assisted by AnubisNetworks, a unit of BitSight Technologies; Microsoft Corp. and Symantec Corp. in dismantling the server infrastructure used by the criminals, Europol said.

"This successful operation shows the importance of international law enforcement working together with private industry in the fight against the global threat of cybercrime," Europol Deputy Director Operations Wil van Gemert said in a statement. "We will continue our efforts in taking down botnets and disrupting the core infrastructures used by criminals to conduct a variety of cybercrimes." Europol did not announce any arrests.

Authorities seized servers in four countries after Microsoft and the Washington-based Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center sought an order last week in U.S. court through a sealed lawsuit. Symantec said on its blog that the two countries with the largest number of infected computers were India — where data shows that 27 percent of infections were uncovered — and Indonesia, with 18 percent. Vietnam, the United States, Bangladesh and the Philippines followed. The security software maker said that the hackers had successfully attacked some 3.2 million PCs since 2010, though investigators believe only about 350,000 are currently infected with the Ramnit malware. The malware, installed through links on spam email or infected websites, enabled culprits to take control of the PCs and use them for criminal activities.



— Reuters and NBC News staff