Zotob Suspects Arrested

Law enforcement officials in Morocco and Turkey have arrested two men on suspicion of releasing the Zotob and Mytob Internet worms. One of the two men is a Russian born Moroccan national and the other, a Turkish resident. The FBI initially carried out the investigation with assistance from Microsoft’s Internet crime team and later with full cooperation from Moroccan and Turkish law enforcement officials.

With the growth of the Internet, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the number of viruses, worms, spy ware and other hacker types of threats. Some of those suspected to be behind these threats include individuals, crime syndicates and even potentially terrorists. The reasons for perpetrating such threats probably range from simple vandalism to financial gain or worse. At the same time, more and more individuals, companies and organizations rely on the Internet for the purpose of facilitating communications, to conduct business and financial transactions etc. So when these computers and the computer networks are disrupted, the clean up and repair costs, or even just the cost of computer downtime runs in the multimillions. These are real financial losses that companies face.

At the same time, the fear of infection from worm or virus or the theft personal/sensitive information by spyware on one’s computer is becoming a deterrent for the individual who would otherwise participate in electronic commerce. And now an even bigger, growing threat is that of key loggers which is software that secretly captures all your key strokes, screen captures etc and emails them to some unknown server. These sorts of deterrents become opportunity costs for various companies engaged in e-commerce if the individual who would otherwise have bought online decides they would rather not take such risks.

This in my opinion is a very significant development with an outcome that was only made possible with the coordination between the various private and governmental law agencies. We are now living in a globalized economy and there is simply too much at stake for private firms and for the economies of various countries to allow or ignore such disruptive threats. So I predict we are only going to see more of such joint operations between US law enforcement agencies like the FBI/Interpol and private American firms like Microsoft, Cisco, etc and law enforcement agencies in other countries around the world. I for one welcome such developments.

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