By Mladen Dragojlovic
Several hackers in Southeast Europe are under investigation for allegedly taking part in a global cybercrime ring, a network of 11 million computers, causing over 644 million euros in losses.
The Botnet is a network of hacker-infected computers. Through malicious software, hackers are after credit card numbers, bank accounts and other personal information.
Police institutions in Republika Srpska (RS), Croatia, Great Britain, Peru, New Zealand and other countries are involved in the investigation, along with the US Justice Department and the FBI.
The RS and Croatia’s spokespersons confirmed that investigation is ongoing and that names of hackers, for now, are not being released.
“In close co-operation with FBI, we conduct activities to uncover hackers in the RS and break up this criminal network. We’ll be able to announce other information after investigations end,” Mirna Soja, RS ministry of interior affairs spokesperson, told SETimes.
Croatia’s botnet investigators also refused to reveal names or locations of the suspects. Jelena Bikic, police spokeswoman, told the media that Croatian police are co-operating with the FBI.
“Investigation is still in progress, but hopefully, police will soon hold an interesting press conference. Then we’ll announce all details of the action,” Bikic said.
In the last two years, regional police agencies conducted several actions to break various cybercrime networks. In June, RS police arrested Dragan Plavsic, a Banja Luka student, who hacked thousands of computers.
Plavsic seemed an ordinary student, relaying on financial help from his grandmother. But his Facebook page was replete with photos he took in Paris, London and other places he visited. Banja Luka county prosecution office recently charged him with cybercrime.
Gojko Vasic, RS police chief, told SETimes that the FBI has full confidence in the RS cybercrime prevention office.
“Two years ago, when the department was formed, experts successfully broke up one botnet network and found evidence of similar networks. We informed the FBI; they said that they have been trying to break up that network for months,” Vasic told SETimes.
He added that FBI experts immediately arrived in Banja Luka and started a close co-operation with the RS Interior Ministry. Vasic said that this co-operation resulted in several other investigations and actions in the last two years.
Milos Jankovic, Banja Luka IT engineer, told SETimes that individuals usually do not begin cybercrime activity alone.
“There must be a group; no matter where in the world they may be. They create a small computer programme and attack computers worldwide via social networks. The programme sends personal information, such as credit card, bank account numbers, or similar information, to its creator,” Jankovic said.
He pointed out that RS has many “IT brains” capable of launching cybercrime rings.
“It’s easy money. The region is full of jobless but computer savvy persons. This way they can earn a significant income,” he said.
Croatian police arrested several hacker groups in the last two years, and the Serbian police investigated similar groups.