BERLIN Dec 1 One of the world's biggest
networks of hijacked computers, which is suspected of attacking
online banking customers, has been targeted by police swoops in
10 countries, German police said on Thursday
In an internationally coordinated campaign, authorities
carried out the raids on Wednesday, seized servers and website
domains and arrested suspected leaders of a criminal
organisation, said police and prosecutors in northern Germany.
Officials said they had seized 39 servers and several
hundred thousand domains, depriving criminals of control of more
than 50,000 computers in Germany alone. These hijacked computers
were used to form a "botnet" to knock out other websites.
The strike came in the same week that hackers tried to
create the world's biggest botnet, or an army of zombie
computers, by infecting the routers of 900,000 Deutsche Telekom
with malicious software.
The attack failed but froze the routers, causing outages in
homes, businesses and government offices across Germany on
Sunday and Monday, Deutsche Telekom executives said.
Police said criminals had used the botnet targeted in
Wednesday's international raids and known as "AVALANCHE" since
2009 to send phishing and spam emails. More than a million
emails were sent per week with malicious attachments or links.
When users opened the attachment or clicked on the link,
their infected computers became part of the botnet.
The raids came after more than four years of intensive
investigation by specialists in 41 countries.
Authorities have identified 16 suspected leaders of the
organisation from 10 different countries.
A court in Verden, northern Germany, has issued arrest
warrants for seven people on suspicion of forming a criminal
organisation, commercial computer fraud and other criminal
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Alison Williams)