The Month: Global snapshots


Hackers target file-sharing site; Microsoft takes on Russian headmaster.

- UK: The leader of a gang of fraudsters that used leaked bank accountinformation to steal £2.4 million from Halifax, HSBC and Barclayscustomers has been jailed for five years. Prosecutors said the "highlyorganised and systematic operation' used a combination of bank insidersand a virus to hack into accounts and change internet bankingpasswords.

- SWEDEN: In an ironic twist, file-sharing site The Pirate Bay has had acopy of its user database stolen by hackers. Site operators reckon therisk to users is low as details were "very encrypted", but have advisedthat passwords should be changed. The site, which allows users todownload BitTorrent content for free, has had numerous battles withHollywood, and recording artists.

- RUSSIA: A headmaster has been fined half his monthly salary in aMicrosoft piracy case that President Vladimir Putin has called "utternonsense'. The Russian court found Alexander Ponosov guilty of violatingintellectual property rights for allowing pupils to use computers withunlicensed copies of Microsoft software and fined him 5,000 roubles.Reuters reports he plans to appeal.

- CHINA: A stunning 1.4 million Chinese PCs were infected over a singleweek in May, according to local sources. With the nation off work overthe Labour Day holiday, a massive wave of malware infections occurred.This was a rise of more than 30 per cent on the same period last year,with much of the malicious activity aimed at stealing banking and gamingdetails.

- US: Online currency company e-gold has been indicted by a federalgrand jury in Washington, DC. The firm is accused of running anunregulated financial network that allowed cyber criminals to launderprofits. The US secret service is investigating, according to mediareports. The money laundering conspiracy charge carries a maximum20-year jail sentence.

- THE NETHERLANDS: A Dutch cybersquatter is facing legal action byGoogle UK after the ingenious use of trademark in domains such, and Owner Marcelvan der Werf originally ran the sites from the UK, but has now moved atleast one to Russia after the site was closed down by the ISP, accordingto Webwereld.

- AUSTRALIA: PC buyers down under should be taking extra caution thismonth, after a new wave of malicious spam spoofing the Dell online storewas released. The emails claim that the user is to be charged for acamera purchase and requests they click on a link. The spoof site thenuses JavaScript to install malware, according to Websense SecurityLabs.

- NEW ZEALAND: There are red faces at ISP Telecom this month after apotential customer, Gay Hamilton, was chastised by their mail filter.Hamilton had requested sign-up details, but her mail bounced back alongwith a message saying she had used inappropriate language for a businessemail. Content-filtering software detected eight uses of the word "Gay'in the email.

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