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Facebook helps FBI bust cyber crime ring

Facebook assisted in the investigation by identifying compromised accounts and perpetrators who infected 11 million computers worldwide.

December 13, 2012|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO — The Federal Bureau of Investigation has busted an international cyber crime ring that infected 11 million computers around the world and resulted in more than $850 million in losses.

Facebook Inc.'s security team assisted law enforcement in the investigation by helping identify compromised accounts and the perpetrators around the globe who stole credit cards and bank and personal information — and in some cases spammed Facebook users — after infecting computers with malicious software.

Facebook said a "small subset" of the 11 million computers infected had accounts on Facebook but its researchers were able to provide "intelligence" to law enforcement about the malware and the perpetrators.

Quiz: How much do you know about Facebook?

The FBI and law enforcement agencies outside the U.S. arrested 10 suspects from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, Britain and the United States, the FBI said. The FBI has accused the suspects of deploying "botnets," a collection of infected computers that is used to steal credit card and other information.

"Facebook's security team is vigilant against any threats that target our site and the Internet at large," Facebook said in a blog post.

Facebook said it began investigating the malicious software in 2010 and identified affected accounts based on suspicious activity.

"We provided free anti-virus software to remediate impacted accounts, and our anti-spam systems were able to block much of the malicious content," Facebook said.

Facebook said it has seen no new infections since October. But some devices may still be infected. Facebook users who are concerned can visit the Facebook malware checkpoint.

If your computer is infected, the free anti-virus software offered will safely remove it.

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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