23 November 2015
Two people have been arrested on suspicion of operating a website offering services to help criminals overcome anti-virus software and disguise malicious software (malware), following a joint investigation led by the National Crime Agency and Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in security software and solutions.
A 22 year-old man and a 22-year-old woman from Colchester, Essex were detained as a result of a partnership between the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) and Trend Micro. They have been bailed until February 2016 pending further enquiries.
The suspect’s website - reFUD.me - provided a number of functions, both free and for charge, which allowed malware developers to scan their illegal files. They would then learn whether or not they could successfully infect victims’ computers by circumventing their anti virus protection.
If a piece of malware was detected, changes could be made by the developer to make the file ‘FUD’ or ‘Fully UnDetectable’. Statistics on the website claim that more than 1.2 million scans have been conducted since February 2015.
Crypter services were also offered, allowing malware files to be packaged and disguised using encryption. ‘Cryptex Reborn,’ the form of crypting available on the forum is among the most sophisticated in recent years.
Malware developers could purchase a licence to download and use the product to encrypt their files – charges ranging from $20 per month to $90 for lifetime usage.
“This ongoing investigation shows how the NCA is taking its work with industry to combat cybercrime to the next level,” said Steve Laval, from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.
“Although the website offered services designed to help circumvent anti-virus software, computer users can protect themselves from most malware threats by taking some simple precautions,” said Laval. “The NCA urges all internet users to ensure they have up to date anti-virus software installed on their machines and to avoid clicking on unknown or suspicious links or email attachments.”
“We will continue to work in partnership to help protect people from threats like malicious software infections and to identify and pursue suspected offenders.”
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was agreed between the National Crime Agency and Trend Micro in July 2015, marking a significant step forward in cooperation between the two parties in understanding and combating cybercrime. The agreement will see the formation of a cross-organisation ‘virtual team,’ which will seek to identify innovative ways of tackling specific cybercrime threats.
“This investigation is the result of Trend Micro's collaboration with the NCA and other partners to tackle some of the core components that enable cybercriminal business models to exist,” said Martin Rösler, Senior Director of threat research, Trend Micro. “Helping to take down operations such as this is part of our ongoing effort to keep the world safe for exchanging digital information, for both our customers and the Internet at large.”
Internet users are encouraged to visit Cyberstreetwise and GetSafeOnline where a number of antimalware tools are available to clean up and protect computers.
For more information on the MOU between Trend Micro and the National Crime Agency, click. For information about Trend Micro Incorporated click here.