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Three men charged over devastating Gozi virus

One of the most profitable cyber-attacks ever discovered has resulted in US prosecutors charging three men from Europe, who now face lengthy spells in prison.

The Gozi virus began proliferating in 2005 when ringleader Nikita Kuzmin used the threat to steal sensitive data. The virus later spread to the US and even infected 190 computers belonging to NASA.

It is estimated that over $50 million (£32 million) in illegal profits were earned using Gozi.

Kuzmin, a 25-year-old Russian national, could now face up to 95 years in prison having pleaded guilty to the charges in May 2011, US Attorney Preet Bharara revealed.

Extradition proceedings against the two other men, 28-year-old Mihai Ionut Paunescu from Romania and 27-year-old Deniss Calovskis from Latvia, are now underway.

Bhara described Gozi as "one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history," and said, "This case should serve as a wake-up call to banks and consumers alike because cybercrime remains one of the greatest threats we face, and it is not going away anytime soon."