Italian police arrest phishing gang

Police in Italy have arrested 24 people thought to be behind a hacking attempt that saw 10,000 websites compromised and used to launch phishing attacks.

The members of the alleged phishing ring were tracked by the authorities for several weeks. The operation, called "Phish and Chip" snared 18 Italians and eight people from Eastern Europe. The phishing campaign targeted users of the Italian post office as well as several other European financial institutions.

In a statement to the media, police said a 22-year-old man was the main hacker who set up the phishing emails that tried to prise out sensitive personal and financial information from unsuspecting users.

Once the information was stolen from users, the victim's bank accounts were emptied by the hacker's associates into PostePay cards used by the gang to transfer money.

Police also seized various computer equipment used by the gang to commit the fraud, including backup servers, laptops, and mobile phones, as well as devices for making cloned credit cards.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer of web security firm Finjan, said that the Italian police arrests represented a major milestone in getting to grips with the problem of organised crime on the web.

"Phishing is a very pervasive problem, as many of the emails and websites really do look quite genuine," said Yuval Ben-Itzhak. "Companies should consider installing website security analysis software to counter this type of internet fraud."

As reported by IT PRO, the gang used the Mpack worm to compromise thousands of websites and commit identity theft.

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.