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Pinch Trojan lives on after authors' convictions

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Updated Variants of the Pinch Trojan are infecting users more than a year after the arrest of its two original authors, , who were recently jailed for their crimes.

More than 4,000 PCs a day were getting infected by just one variant of the information-pilfering malware, according to net security firm PrevX, which bases this estimate on logs from a malware control website left open by cybercriminals.

An estimated 392 of the infected machines are from the USA, 335 from Brazil, 93 from China, and 73 from the UK. The data suggests that 150 of the Windows machines infected were running anti-virus software.

"This data is an interesting insight into the modern world of the malware developer," said Jacques Erasmus, director of malware research at Prevx. "By simply buying the software kit off the internet and adding a few custom tweaks, the owner of this particular variation is managing to get round major anti-virus software and stealing peoples credit card details, passwords, and other personal information."

PrevX has reported the site controlling the malware to the relevant ISP, a US-based provider of free hosting service, which subsequently shut it down.

Pinch is a Trojan creation toolkit credited with enabling virus writers to infect hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Windows PCs. The toolkit used to be sold through black market hacking forums but the leakage of source code means that it's now freely available at no cost to anyone who cares to hunt it down, Erasmus explained.

The two suspected authors of the virus creation toolkit were arrested by Russian police in December 2007. Contrary to earlier versions of this story the two were prosecuted and convicted of computer crime offences.

Damir Farkhutdinov (AKA Damrai) and Alexey Ermishkin (aka Scratch) were jailed for 18 months and 12 months, respectively, at a sentencing hearing in December 2008. The Kalinskii regional court in the town of Chelyabinsk also ordered Farkhutdinov to pay a fine of 30,000 roubles ($828) and Ermishkin 20,000 roubles ($552).

The duo were estimated to have made 600,000 roubles ($16,569) by selling the virus toolkit they created between approximately January 2005 and June 2007. Kaspersky Lab researchers, who we're grateful for tracking down the result of the case, had written-up a more comprehensive run-down of the outcome of the case in a blog posting here. ®

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