A couple (22-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman from Colchester, Essex) offering malware encryption services has been arrested by British police — The couple offered services on a website “reFUD.me”.
The website offered malware authors encryption services to cyber criminals so that their malware cannot be easily detected by anti-virus programs. What encryption does is it rewrites the code on the malware and makes it undetectable for anti-virus products.
But, in this case, it wasn’t a free service, any author who wants to use the service was asked to pay either $20 monthly or $90 for lifetime usage which was a license allotted to the author for using Cryptex encryption service, reported by National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit.
Furthermore, the site offered scans on malicious programs which provided reports on a number of security products that can detect the malware, allowing malware authors to strengthen their code if it is found to be detected easily.
According to the site’s official stats, over 1.2 million scans have been carried out since February 2015.
Though there are some legitimate services (like the Google’s very own VirusTotal) which provide scanning services similar to reFUD.com the main difference between both the services is that reFUD guarantees the user full privacy of the reports and are never shared with security communities.
Right after the arrests, the website was taken down. Users of the service fear that it would not be long before police would be knocking their doors.
An officer from Cybercrime unit, after the arrests gave an advice to the users:
“Although the website offered services designed to help circumvent anti-virus software, computer users can protect themselves from most malware threats by taking some simple precautions. The NCA urges all internet users to ensure they have up to date anti-virus software installed on their machines and to avoid clicking on unknown or suspicious links or email attachments.”
The agency was helped by experts from Trend Micro, setting up an example of how tech experts can help authorities trap cyber criminals and make the cyber much more secure.
The arrested couple, for now, has been bailed till February 2016, after which they would be prosecuted for further inquiries.