German trojan gang jailed

Two German men who infected more than 100,000 computers with a trojan that generated profits exceeding 12 million Euros have been jailed.

A court in Osnabrck, north-eastern Germany, sentenced one of the men to four years in jail, and the other to a 39 month sentence, for their part in a criminal scheme that installed innocent users' PCs with a trojan that dialled premium rate 0190 phone numbers to contact an adult website.

The men, aged 31 and 35 years old, amassed their substantial illegal profits from the premium rate phone calls made via the modems of infected PCs between July 2002 and September 2003.

"Despite the holiday season, it's a sure bet that these hackers won't be feeling particularly festive. Having infected a staggering 100,000 computers and run up huge phone bills for the unsuspecting users, the culprits are now facing Christmas in the slammer," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The German authorities must be commended for bringing these offenders to justice, and other hackers should look long and hard at the punishment dished out and ask themselves whether, in the long run, internet crime really pays."

The immensity of the operation prompted the prosecution asked the court to fine the men 7.75 million Euros in addition to the jail sentence, however this request was rejected for legal reasons. Earlier in 2006, two other men were jailed for 18 and 22 months in connection with the case.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.