Law enforcement agencies and private sector companies are joining forces in an international operation which will attempt to tackle a type of malware currently being used by criminals to steal cash from bank accounts.

The malware, known colloquially as ‘Shylock’ or the ‘Shylock Trojan’ due to its code containing excerpts taken from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, has internationally infected over 30,000 computers running Microsoft Windows. It is thought that the UK is the worst affected, despite intelligence that the developers of Shylock are based elsewhere. The malware infects computers by disguising malicious links as links to photographs, videos or website, victims then click on the links and unknowingly download the malware. Once installation is complete, the malware will seek to access funds held in business and/or personal bank accounts and transfer them to the criminal controllers.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has brought together a number of agencies and companies including FBI, Europol, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, GCHQ, Dell Secure Works, Kaspersky Lab and the German Federal Police (BKA), to combat Shylock and prevent further theft and infection.

One of the steps that the collaboration has taken so far is the disruption of the system which Shylock uses in order to operate. The servers which form the command and control system for the malware has been, and will continue to be seized which allows for the taking over control of the domains used by Shylock to operate communications between infected computers. This step has been directed and operated from the European Cybercrime Centre (known as EC3) at Europol in the Hague. This has lead to the co-ordinated action from the respective law enforcement agencies in the countries (such as Italy, the UK, Turkey, Poland, France, and Germany) involved to continue the successful seizure and acquisition of control.

In an announcement regarding the recent development’s in the operation, Andy Archibald (Deputy Director of the NCA’s National Cybercrime Unit) stated;

“The NCA is coordinating an international response to a cyber crime threat to businesses and individuals around the world. This phase of activity is intended to have a significant effect on the Shylock infrastructure, and demonstrates how we are using partnerships across sectors and across national boundaries to cut cyber crime impacting the UK…We continue to urge everybody to ensure their operating systems and security software are up to date.”

Microsoft Windows computer users who use automated operating system updates have been advised that the do not need to take action at this time however those without automatic updates or those wishing to obtain further information have been advised on the news page of the NCA’s website to visit the Microsoft support page.

Cybercrime can carry lengthy punishments and there is currently raised awareness and drive to tackle it. If you have been accused of involvement in cybercrime, or indeed any crime in any capacity, it is vital that you speak to a criminal defence solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Early advice is often crucial. At Farleys we have a specialist team of criminal defence solicitors who specialise in serious crime and can provide advice and representation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on all areas of serious crime. For 24 hour advice via our emergency crime line, call 01254 606050.