Thousands fall victim to data theft

Thousands fall victim to data theft

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

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TOPICS: Security
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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.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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3 comments
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  • I believe that I may be a victim of this virus.
    My PayPal account was hacked into 2 weeks ago and used by someone on eBay.

    I contacted the hacker via eBay. He/she apologised for 'borrowing' my account and then proceeded to deposit various sums of money stolen from other people's accounts into mine.

    PayPal and eBay returned the money to their rightful owners, but have refused to communicate with me on any level. The only time I got a reply from PayPal was when I emailed them yet again saying I wanted the police invloved. Their response was that I would have to involve the police myself. They basically don't want to know.

    The hacker is still there on eBay and has not had their account suspended. Unbelievable!
    anonymous
  • I have been directed to your site, following a phone call from my isp telling me they had recived an email from met police telling them i am the victim of the data theft described on yours site, according to their press release they want to be contacted by those affected, you try it!! there is no way that you can so if anyone has any further information i would love to hear it!!

    i also used paypal on ebay for the first time yesterday, before i knew about this problem from the anonynous housewife so it seems i could be even worse off than before!
    anonymous
  • i just dont use my credit card details any more

    I get one generated online and use it. when the bank want to check it you can always call them and give them correct details.

    the one that i use is from online card nubmers generator and it works with any expiry date (i think)

    http://www.hata.co.uk/credit-cards-numbers-online/
    anonymous