Three suspected hackers arrested in U.K., U.S.

Two men in England and one in the U.S. were arrested yesterday on suspicion of being part of a hacking group that created a relatively little-known Internet worm, officials said.

The two English men, a 19-year-old electrician and a 21-year-old unemployed man, were arrested after two addresses in Durhamshire, England, were searched yesterday morning. Evidence relating to computer and drug offenses was found and computers were seized, the U.K.'s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) said in a statement.

A 17-year-old in Champaign, Ill., was also arrested by authorities, and additional evidence was seized, a spokeswoman for the NHTCU said Friday.

The two U.K. suspects were released on bail last night. They haven't been charged with any crime, but the evidence is being investigated, and charges could be filed against the men at a later stage, the NHTCU spokeswoman said.

Authorities alleged that the two U.K. men are part of an international hacking group called THr34t-Krew. This group unleashed an Internet worm known as the TK worm that infected about 18,000 computers around the world and caused $9 million in damages, according to the NHTCU.

The TK worm exploits a vulnerability that is found on some Microsoft Corp. Internet Information Server Web servers, according to antivirus software vendor Sophos PLC in Oxford, England. A patch to fix that bug was issued in May 2001, Sophos said. Infected systems were under the control of the hacking group and could be used to stage denial-of-service attacks, the NHTCU said.

The operation was conducted jointly with officers from the Durham police force and the U.S. multiagency Computer and Technology Crime Hi-Tech Response Team (CATCH). CATCH consists of 11 investigators from U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI.

Just last month, British virus writer Simon Vallor was sentenced to two years in prison for writing three viruses that authorities say infected 27,000 computers in more than 40 countries.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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