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Police hold three in spam Trojan bust

'MOOP' members cuffed in UK and Finland

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Police in Finland and the UK this morning arrested three alleged members of a group dubbed "MOOP" suspected of delivering trojans via spam emails to gain access to confidential information stored on "thousands" of corporate machines, the Metropolitan Police's Computer Crime Unit has confirmed.

The three men, a 63-year-old from England, a 19-year-old from Finland and a 28-year-old from Scotland, are being questioned after computers were "seized at residential addresses in both countries in addition to the suspects' servers".

A Metropolitan Police statement reads: "This highly organised group are suspected of writing new computer viruses in order to avoid detection by anti-virus products. They have been primarily targeting UK businesses since at least 2005, and during this time thousands of computers are known to have been infected across the globe."

Detective Constable Bob Burls, of the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit, added: "These men appear to be connected via an online company. We believe the suspects created and adapted viruses with the aim of causing massive infection by spamming. Today's arrests will send a clear worldwide signal to the authors of malicious software that national borders will not limit the ability and commitment of law enforcement authorities to clamp down on this criminal activity."

The virus in question is, according to CNet, called either "Ryknos", "Breplibot" or "Stinkx", and is delivered when unsuspecting users click on an attachment to an email which reads:

"Hello, Your photograph was forwarded to us as part of an article we are publishing for our December edition of Total Business Monthly. Can you check over the format and get back to us with your approval or any changes? If the picture is not to your liking then please send a preferred one. We have attached the photo with the article here. Kind regards, Jamie Andrews."

The "Breplibot" virus has previously been fingered for exploiting Sony-BMG's infamous rootkit DRM technology, and was delivered via a similar email.

The rootkit masked any files beginning with "$sys$", and Breplibot accordingly used this handy facility to drop the file "$sys$drv.exe" into the Windows system directory safe from the prying eyes of anti-virus software. ®

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