Security experts have revealed that a gang of hackers have managed to hijack as many as 1.9 million PCs across the globe, including computers inside UK and US government departments.
The security firm Finjan has traced the huge network of remotely controlled PCs, popularly referred to as “botnet”, back to a group of cyber criminals in Ukraine.
The company notified that several PCs inside six government bodies in UK have been infiltrated with some malware content and form a part of those 1.9 million infected PCs. In the US, computers at both local and federal government level have been compromised, the security firm added.
The botnet has been linked to a six-member cybergang that was selling control of sets of 1,000 infected machines for as low as £30 to £70. The cybercriminals managed to infiltrate users’ computers through genuine websites with malware content that bypassed around 90 percent of common antivirus applications, the report added.
Quoting the gravity of the issue, Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief exec for Finjan, said in a statement, “With this many computers affected, everyone was there on the list - the US Federal government, big universities, very large public companies”.
The report has sparked concerns over the security of critical government projects, and called for more proactive involvement by the government and security agencies to fend off the consequences of such a large scale attack.
Finjan's discovering is staggering to say the least. Such a massive presence is worrying and certainly represents only a fraction of known botnets. It would be fascinating to find out how the criminals have managed to grab so many computers without raising the alarm previously. The fact a significant proportion of the computers involved were supposed to be protected in the first place makes Finjan's findings even more ominous.