Argentinian police have arrested a 19-year-old hacker, believed to have run a set of cyber scams that earned as much as $50,000 per month. The case underlines the scale of cybercrime facing businesses and the changing face of the types of criminals acting in this arena.
Numerous sources reported that Argentina's Ministry of Defence confirmed arresting the unnamed hacker for running a cyber campaign, as part of its Operation Zombie. The youth reportedly infected a number of web users' computers with unnamed money-siphoning malware hosted in a server for downloading online gaming applications.
Police said the hacker hid his tracks using a botnet to mount denial of service (DoS) attacks on his victims, hampering their ability to spot the lump sums being illegally taken from their accounts. At the time of publishing Argentina's Ministry of Defence had not responded to V3's request for comment on the reports.
The Associated Press reported that the youth is the son of an information systems engineer. It added that unnamed experts said the hacker was diverting around $50,000 a month to his bank account before being arrested. The campaign is believed to have been running since 2012.
While the youth's age is troubling the amount listed is of little surprise. Cybercrime has been an increasingly profitable practice for many mafia groups and lone-wolf hackers. Security firm Symantec reported last year that cyber criminals are taking up to $33,000 per day using ransomware scams. Ransomware is a particularly dangerous variant of malware that locks a user's computer and blackmails them for money to unlock it.
The success of cyber criminal scams has been a growing problem for businesses, costing the UK economy millions of pounds each year. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) estimated in May that small businesses lose £800m to cyber crime every year.
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