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Teenager behind GBP 10 m cyber-heist

A 18-year old New Zealander (opens in new tab) has been arrested after he was accused of being the ring leader of a hacking network, working with an American partner who has already been arrested.

The teenager whose online identity (opens in new tab) is Akill is said to control thousands of Zombie computers worldwide, although the F.B.I has suggested that more than 1 million computers in Holland were compromised by the group, costing a total of USD 25 million.

The computers were loaded (opens in new tab) with key-logging software which collected bank account details and forwarded them to the criminals who would then empty the bank accounts of their victims.

The authorities suspect that the computers could have been used to launch Denial of Service attacks or send spam or virus-infected emails to other computers as well.

The New Zealand police's electronic crime centre head, Martin Kleintjes said that the teenager was a bright lad who went wrong, adding that he hired his services to other criminals.

Described as a brilliant loner (opens in new tab), the teenager who was minor at the time of the arrest has now turned 18 and will be named publicly. If convicted, he faces ten years in prison.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.