Three people have been charged in the Gozi computer virus case. The virus targeted bank accounts in the United States and around the world.
The criminal charges were revealed on Wednesday and highlight the vulnerabilities of online consumer banking. Online banking has become extremely popular in recent years.
The charges over the Gozi computer virus incident also comes months after most major US banks suffered online attacks by Middle Eastern attackers, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The men charged allegedly created the Gozi computer virus and infected more than one million computers around the world including more than 40,000 in the United States.
The virus, along with other malicious software, infected the user’s computer and stole log-in information for online banking and other accounts. Gozi attacked both individuals and businesses.
NBC News reports that the men charged in the case are Latvian Deniss Calovskis, Russian Nikita Kuzmin, and Romanian Mihai Ionut Paunescu. The first indictment in the case was actually brought in 2011 against Kuzmin.
Calovskis and Kuzmin started designing the Gozi computer virus in 2007 after they discovered a malicious computer code that could steal information like bank account numbers, usernames, and passwords. The virus affected more than 160 NASA computers from 2008 to June 2012. The damage cost the department $40,000.
Preet Bharara, a US attorney in Manhattan who is working on the case, stated, “Their bank heists required neither a mask nor a gun, but a clever computer program and an internet connection.” In referencing a quotation often attributed to notorious bank robber Willie Sutton, Bharara added, “Cyber criminals target banks too because that’s where the money still is.”
Marcus Asner, a former federal prosecutor, believes that the Gozi computer virus incident shows “astonishing sophistication” in the fight between cyber criminals and the banking industry.
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