Bangkok: A top level investigation into cyber crime across South-east Asia has identified nearly 9000 malware-laden servers and hundreds of compromised websites, including government portals.
The international police agency Interpol said analysts identified 270 websites across the region that have been infected with malware code exploiting vulnerability in their design applications.
Among them were several government websites containing the personal data of their citizens. The governments were not named.
Derek Manky, global strategist at Fortinet, one of seven companies that collaborated with Interpol in the crackdown, said criminals are increasingly using a sophisticated web of compromised systems to launch attacks.
“Compounding these challenges, cyber criminals have no regard for political boundaries of national lines and will leverage various geopolitical protocols to their advantage,” he said.
One criminal based in Indonesia selling phishing kits via the dark web posted a YouTube video showing customers how to use the illicit software.
A number of phishing website operators were identified, including one with links to Nigeria.
Interpol said in a statement that threats were posed by 8800 comand-and-control (C2) active servers across eight countries, including various malware families that targeted financial institutions, spread ransomware – computer malware that installs covertly on a victim’s device and then locks it – distributed spam and launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Investigations are ongoing.
Interpol said the operation highlighted the need for law enforcement to proactively investigate vulnerabilities exploited by cyber criminals, rather than waiting for reports from victims.
It said identifying different laws applicable to cybercrimes was an important part of the operation.
Singapore police assistant commissioner Cheng Khee Boon was quoted by the Straits Times as saying “we will spare no effort to track down cyber criminals who think they can operate under the impunity of cross-jurisdictions”.
An Interpol office was opened in Singapore in 2015. It works with companies to expose cybercrime.
Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, China and Vietnam provided intelligence for the crackdown.