'Law enforcement key to fight cybercriminals'

CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE,INDIA: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, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, 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 Asia Pacific, Malaysian born Gooi Kok Seng, aka Delpiero, was arrested in Thailand in January 2010, in connection with credit card fraud amounting to US$150 million. Gooi was a prominent member of a credit card fraud gang, which had been operating in the US for the past three years. The group is alleged to have stolen credit card information from victims who had visited restaurants and major department stores in the US. They then sold the data to organised crime syndicates in Asia who produced counterfeit credit cards. Gooi was extradited to the US where he will face criminal charges.


In the US, 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.