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FBI and Microsoft move in on Internet Criminals

FBI and Microsoft move in on Internet Criminals

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American FBI and Microsoft shut down the €375m theft botnet known as Citadel

The American FBI and Microsoft have cooperated in order to break up a massive network of hijacked home computers that have been responsible for stealing more than €375m from bank accounts around the globe.

The Citadel network was set up by a group of criminal gangs who remotely installed a keylogging program on upwards of five million machines in order to steal data.

About 1,000 of the 1,400 or so networks that made up the Citadel botnet are believed to have been shut down.

Co-ordinated action in 80 countries by police forces, tech firms and banking bodies helped to disrupt the network.

“The bad guys will feel the punch in the gut,” Richard Boscovich, a spokesman for Microsoft’s digital crimes unit said.

Control code

The cybercriminals behind Citadel cashed in by using login and password details for online bank accounts stolen from compromised computers.

This method was used to steal cash from a huge number of banks including American Express, Bank of America, PayPal, HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo.

Citadel emerged after core computer code for a widely used cybercrime kit, called Zeus, was released online.

Underground coders banded together to turn that code into a separate cybercrime toolkit that quickly proved popular with many malicious hackers.

In a blogpost detailing its action, Microsoft said Citadel had also grown because malicious code that could take over a PC had been bundled in with pirated versions of Windows.

The millions of PCs in the criminal network were spread around the globe, but were most heavily concentrated in North America, Western Europe, Hong Kong, India and Australia.

Despite the widespread action, which involved seizures of servers that co-ordinated the running of Citadel, the identity of the botnet’s main controller is unknown.

However, Microsoft has started a “John Doe” lawsuit against the anonymous controller, believing him to use the nickname Aquabox and be based in Eastern Europe.

In addition, the FBI is working with Europol and police forces in many other countries to track down and identify the 81 “lieutenants” that helped Aquabox keep Citadel running.

Microsoft has also started action to help people clean up an infected computer.

Typically, it said, machines compromised by Citadel were blocked from getting security updates to ensure those computers stayed part of the botnet.

With the network disrupted, machines should be free to get updates and purge the Citadel malware from their system.

FBI and Microsoft move in on Internet Criminals – Irish Web Design From an article on BBC News

Plains of Kildare

Grants available for websites

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Business Expansion Grants

Grants available for websites for businesses trading more than 18 months

The Business Expansion Grant is designed to assist the business in it’s growth phase after the initial 18 month start-up period. Micro enterprises that have availed of a Priming Grant are ineligible to apply for a Business Expansion Grant until 18 months after the final drawdown date of the Priming Grant, except in exceptional circumstances.

Business Expansion Grants may be awarded to sole traders, partnerships or limited companies that fulfil the following criteria:

  • Located within the CEB’s geographic area;
  • A business, which on growth, may or may not have the capacity to fit the Enterprise Ireland portfolio;
  • A business employing up to 10 employees;
  • A manufacturing or internationally traded service business;
  • A domestically traded service business with the potential to trade internationally.

The maximum Business Expansion Grant payable must not exceed 50% of the investment or €150,000, whichever is the lesser.

Grants over €80,000 and up to €150,000 shall be the exception and shall only apply in the case of projects that clearly demonstrate a potential to graduate to Enterprise Ireland and / or to export internationally.

In all other cases, the maximum grant shall be 50% of the investment of €80,000, whichever is the lesser.

Subject to the 50% limit, a maximum grant of up to €15,000 per full time job created shall apply in respect of any employment support grant aid.

Expenditure may be considered under the following headings:

  • Capital Items: These include fit out of workspace, office equipment, machinery, computer costs, hardware and software etc. (Note acquisition of building and purchase of mobile assets are excluded from grant aid).
  • Salary Costs: For first year of employment. This to be paid out in two instalments. The first instalment at the commencement of employment and the second instalment once the employment has continued in existence for a period of six months. The level of grant support should reflect the salary scale proposed for the employment being generated. It is anticipated that only quality jobs attracting salaries in excess of €40,000 will be eligible for the maximum €15,000 grant support with appropriately scaled back grants offered in accordance with proposed salary for lower paid positions. Staff recruitment costs may also be considered eligible for grant aid.
  • Rental / Accommodation Costs: For first year of project. (Note where rental space is already subsidised by an investment of public funds then grant support should reflect the differential between the market rate and subsidised rate). Rental costs may be paid up front subject to receipt by the Board of signed lease / rental agreements.
  • Utility Costs: These include installation costs for telephone and broadband. (Note mobile phone costs are excluded).
  • Marketing Costs: These include packaging, brochures, business cards, trade fairs, website design and development, and other marketing initiatives.
  • Consultancy Costs: These include design fees, patent costs, architect, accountant and legal fees.
  • Business Specific Training: Costs here refer to specialised management or key personnel training programmes that are required to ensure the growth of the business. Such courses should not be generally available under the Board’s general training programmes.

Grants available for websites

Grants available for websites – Irish Web Design

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