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F-Secure CRO gives thumbs up to increased cybercriminals arrests

According to Hypponen, he hopes that a permanent shift has been seen in the ability of law enforcement to identify, capture and prosecute cybercriminals.

For years, he explained, the transition of malware from an online annoyance to criminal activity was not reflected by the number of arrests and convictions of the perpetrators.

And in the rare cases when people were caught and prosecuted, the sentences were hardly punitive.

"Anti-virus companies are not the police, but we always provide the material uncovered by our investigations into cybercrime to the authorities so they can take action", he said.

"It's great to see this is having an effect and we hope that the new level of arrests and punitive sentencing represents a permanent shift in the way cybercrime is tackled", he added.

Hypponen went on to say that in a landmark case in March of his year, Alfredo Gonzales received a 20-year jail sentence for being the ringleader of a gang that hacked tens of millions of credit card records from TJ Maxx and several other US retailers.

This, he says, is the longest sentence ever passed in a cybercrime case. Gonzales and his gang members gained access into the authentication systems of the retailers' cash registers by hacking into their WiFi connections. Millions of credit cards had to be re-issued as a result.

Other notable cases in 2010 include the sentencing of Renu Subramaniam, aka JiLsi, one of the online criminals from Darkmarket, to almost five years in prison in the UK.

In Estonia, meanwhile, the author of the Allaple virus family, Artur Boiko, was found guilty and sentenced to two years and seven months in prison.

In addition, over 70 members of a phishing gang have been arrested in Romania thanks to co-operation with Russian authorities. Russia has long been viewed as something of a safe haven for cybercriminals, so this development is encouraging in many respects.

"Online crime is no longer a risk-free business. Crime is crime after all. It was only a matter of time before law enforcement started catching up and we hope that news of arrests and convictions become commonplace", said Hypponen.

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