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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swedes Trace Fraud to Russian Hackers

A Russian organized crime group is suspected to be behind an Internet fraud scheme that swindled 250 customers of a Swedish Bank out of $1.1 million in one of the biggest online scams of all time.

Customers at leading Swedish bank Nordea received a series of e-mails containing a Trojan virus over a period of three months, Swedish media reported Friday, citing police sources. Opening the e-mail automatically caused the computer to install the virus, called Haxdoor, on the user's computer.

"Haxdoor is a keylogger and one of the best-known Trojan viruses written by Russian hackers," Alexander Gostev, a virus expert at Kaspersky Labs in Moscow, said Monday. "Haxdoor is designed for precision attacks."

A keylogger is a piece of software that registers a user's keystrokes, which can enable hackers conducting malicious surveillance on the user's computer to harvest their secure passwords. In the case of the Nordea online bank, the attacker must have also been in possession of the database of the bank's customers, Gostev said.

It would not have otherwise been possible for perpetrators to launch an attack without first obtaining inside knowledge about the bank's clients, he said.

Swedish police established that the log-in information was being sent to servers in the United States and then to Russia, making Russian hackers the main suspect, trade publication Computer Sweden reported Friday.

"The fact that the Trojan Horse is of Russian origin is not proof that the attacks on the Nordea bank were orchestrated in Russia," Gostev said.

He stressed that the virus could be written to order for any hacker with enough information to launch an attack.

The Interior Ministry said locating the perpetrators would not pose any problems as soon as the Swedish police supplied all the information on how the attacks were routed.

"We have 45 monitoring points out there through which states or organizations can report on activities of Russian hackers," said Irina Zubareva, head of the Interior Ministry's department on computer-related crimes. "As soon as we receive details on the Swedish bank, we'll swing into action."

Zubareva also said her department had all the experience necessary to track such hackers, be they in Moscow or other parts of the country.

A press officer for Citigroup, the country's largest online banker, said banking security systems must always be a step ahead of hacking technology.

"Hackers are improving their techniques by the hour, therefore a combination of multilevel security systems is needed to provide bulletproof customer-side banking operations to prevent the kind of attacks that took place on Nordea," Citigroup press officer Vladimir Andreyev said.