UK An international gang of ID thieves is finally behind bars after stealing at least £750,000 in one 18-month period. The gang applied for credit cards in other people's names, then abused the cards. A police raid netted huge amounts of evidence, but much was destroyed by a gang member who managed to flick a switch, wiping databases and triggering layers of encryption.

Spain Hackers have begun ransoming Hotmail accounts, refusing to return contacts and emails until they are paid. Some Hotmail users have discovered all their information missing, save one email in Spanish demanding payment. It's likely that the hackers are using keyloggers in internet cafes to gain passwords and login information, according to Websense.

Romania A hacker has been charged with breaking into about 150 systems belonging to the US government. Victor Faur, 26, of Arad, Romania, is accused of disrupting computers used by NASA, the Energy Department and the Navy. NASA was forced to to use backup systems to communicate with spacecraft while damage was repaired.

China A threefold increase in global phishing attacks in December has been blamed on the republic. South Korea is also in the frame, as phishing emails increased from 0.4 per cent of total spam the previous month to 2.2 per cent. China is now the number one generator of phishing emails, according to Marshal's Threat Research and Content Engineering (TRACE) Team.

US A spyware firm faces fines and costs of $1 million (£509,000) in the first successful prosecution under Washington state's anti-spyware laws. Secure Computer offered spyware scans that would inevitably claim to find malware. A licence fee would be demanded to clean the machine, but cleaning would not take place.

UK A Roman Catholic school has banned 65 pupils from using internet facilities after "inappropriate materials" including pornography were accessed on school PCs. Web-savvy kids at St Thomas More RC High School in North Shields were apparently using a proxy avoidance website to bypass the school's security system.

Pakistan Police have arrested a 23-year-old man for "hacking to ransom", according to Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency. Waqas Abrar is accused of hacking into a corporate email account and demanding 40,000 rupees (£335) to restore access. He faces up to seven years in jail and one million rupees (£8,378) in fines.

New Zealand A 16 year old sent on a PC training course as part of a rehab programme has admitted hacking into online bank accounts, stealing nearly dollars NZ50,000 (£17,500). Police say he posted a virus on a message board and used it to capture personal details from his victims. He faces a maximum of five years imprisonment.