Europol takes down servers used by cybercriminals to steal financial data

European law enforcement agencies yesterday seized computer servers used by cybercriminals to infect hundreds of thousands of computers around the world with malware designed to steal personal and financial information, as well as money, from unsuspecting consumers.

The multinational effort, which was led by Europol’s European Cybercrime Center (EC3), included the participation of agencies from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, as well as technical assistance from Microsoft, Symantec and AnubisNetworks.

The simultaneous seizure of servers in four countries followed a U.S. lawsuit filed last week under seal in federal court by Microsoft and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

The operation comes on the heels of a recent report by Kaspersky Labs about a separate attack on financial institutions by cybercriminals, which resulted in the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars. In both situations, law enforcement and the private sector worked together to protect people online. That’s because the complexity of fighting cybercrime is bigger than any one company or organization. It requires a diverse set of skills, including sophisticated computer forensics, big data analysis and legal strategy.

Today’s news is also a reminder that each of us as computer users also has a role to play as partners in the fight against cybercrime. By taking simple steps like keeping antivirus software up to date and firewalls turned on, using updated and genuine software, avoiding suspicious links in emails, and visiting only trusted and known websites, we each can do our part to keep the Internet safe.