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December 12, 2012

Facebook helps FBI nab cyber criminals who caused $850m in losses

Facebook’s security team assisted the FBI in identifying cyber crime rings responsible for compromising more than 11 million computer systems.

By Tineka Smith

The FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) arrested 10 individuals from several countries; including the UK, US, New Zealand, Peru, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Macedonia.

The operation discovered cyber crime rings linked to Yahos malware which compromised over 11m computers and caused losses up to $850m.

The suspected individuals stole money using the Butterfly Botnet, which steals credit card, and bank account information from computer users’.

Botnets can be used by cyber criminals to perform DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, distribute malware and send spam emails.

Throughout the investigation Facebook’s security team assisted law enforcement by helping to identify the root cause. The social network also helped reveal who the perpetrators were and their victims.

"Cyber criminals are taking full advantage of our growing desire to use social media, so it’s great to see big companies like Facebook working closely with law enforcement," Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes told CBR. "Not only will this serve as a warning to cyber criminals, but it will decrease the amount of malware which is posted on social networks and designed to steal everything from personal details to bank account details.

"The simplest way to keep safe on social networks is to make sure you question every link sent to you, even when it’s from a friend as these can often take you straight to threats. In addition, keep your anti-malware software up to date to ensure the latest stealthy spyware stays away from your PC."

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The FBI also advises users to make sure their software is up to date to avoid cybercrime attacks.

"It is recommended that computer users update their applications and operating system on a regular basis to reduce the risk of compromise and perform regular anti-virus scanning of their computer system," said the FBI in a statement. "It is also helpful to disconnect personal computers from the Internet when the machines are not in use."

Yahos malware targeted Facebook members from 2010 to October 2012. However, Facebook’s security systems picked up on the affected accounts and provided tools to remove them.

Facebook recently beefed up its security to fight cybercrime on its site by starting the Antivirus marketplace and partnering with leading security companies.

The social network started the new Antivirus Marketplace for its users and partnering with leading security companies.

Facebook has partnered with Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec to provide combined intelligence in order to offer protection to the social site’s 900 million users.

"Our URL blacklist system, which scans trillions of clicks per day, will now incorporate the malicious URL databases from these security companies to augment our existing level of protection," said the company. "This means that whenever you click a link on our site, you benefit not just from Facebook’s existing protections, but the ongoing vigilance of the world’s leading corporations involved in computer security."

According to Facebook, less than 4% of content on the site is spam and the social network plans "to make even more progress in the future" to reduce spam on its site.

Please follow this writer on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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