Russian Hackers Steal Millions from US Citizens

There's a good reason for all that malware and illegal activity on the Internet: It's extremely profitable.

Over the first six months of 2011, a Russia-based gang of technically adept gangsters successfully stole over $3 million from American organizations and individuals. The group is led by a shady character known only by the title Soldier.

According to a TechWorld article, a Trend Micro blog post, and a much more thorough Trend Micro report, Soldier is a young man in his early 20s, residing in Russia. He appears to have an accomplice in Hollywood. During those six months, the gang stole an average of approximately $17,000 a day.

Their tool of choice appears to be SpyEye/ZeuS, a combination of two powerful and scary hacker toolkits. With these programming tools, the gang successfully compromised a huge number of mostly American targets. Soldier's botnet was able to gain access to more than 25,000 computers between April 19 and June 29, 2011, nearly all of them in the United States. Among the institutions hacked were banks, schools, airports and the U.S. government, including the military.

SpyEye is particularly known for hacking banks, but that's not all it could do. Soldier and his scruple-impaired gang were able to steal certificates from Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Twitter, Skype, and especially Facebook.

What can you do to protect yourself? A reliable, real-time antivirus program such Trend Micro's Titanium is your first line of defense. If you spring for the Internet Security or Maximum Security version of Titanium, you'll get additional protection from the Windows Firewall Booster and data theft prevention. Secure Erase, also in those versions, can limit what data SpyEye can find by the simple act of making deleted files impossible to recover. The Maximum Security product adds even more protection by including Trend Micro Vault, which can encrypt your sensitive files.

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