Thousands fall victim to data theft

Summary:Metropolitan police are struggling to contact UK citizens whose passwords and credit card details have been stolen

Police are trying to contact thousands of UK computer users who have fallen victim to an massive personal data heist.

The Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday that a computer seized in the US had been found to contain personal information from around 2,300 PCs based in Britain. This included email addresses, passwords, credit card numbers and details of online transactions.

According to the Metropolitan Police Computer Crime Unit, the data was stolen via a piece of malware that was secretly installed on the victim's machines.

"The information has been harvested from the computers by a type of malicious code known as a Backdoor," said a detective from the Computer Crime Unit in a statement. "It is too early to establish at this early stage how the computers have been infected. However, there are thousands of computer users worldwide who have had their computers compromised and data stolen."

The Metropolitan Police refused to say whether the information has been used to defraud victims. The 2,300 people whose data was found are being contacted by the police via email. However, it appears that the warnings are often being ignored.

"We're appealing for anyone who's had an email from the Met officers who work in the Computer Crime Unit to get in touch. There's a security measure that people have to go through when they ring, but people are ignoring the emails because they think they're a hoax," said a Metropolitan Police spokesperson.

The Metropolitan Police also declined to reveal the circumstances behind the seizure of the US computer, as the investigation is ongoing. They also refused to say which ISPs and banks are being alerted.

Topics: Security

About

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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