Two arrested in Germany for hacking computers they used to generate bitcoins

The suspects used malware to build a botnet, German police said

German police have arrested two persons they accuse of hacking computers and using them to generate bitcoins police valued at more than €700,000 (US$954,000). A third suspect was not taken into custody, police said.

The suspects allegedly took control of consumer computers with malware spread via the Internet in order to create a botnet, a spokeswoman for the German Federal Criminal Police Office said Thursday. The botnet was used to steal digital identities and to generate bitcoins, she said. The spokeswoman declined to say which malware was involved, or for what the stolen digital identities were used, citing ongoing investigations.

Bitcoins can be generated or "mined" by getting computers to solve difficult calculations. To mine significant numbers of bitcoins takes a lot of computing power, requiring investment in equipment and electricity. A botnet comprising a network of penetrated computers controlled by a third party, can be used to do the job, offloading the costs onto the computers' owners.

While not a full-fledged currency in Germany, bitcoins are permitted by the German Federal Ministry of Finance for use in private transactions. For commercial use of bitcoins, however, a company needs the permission of the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).

As part of the investigation, searches were conducted on Monday night in the states of Bavaria and Lower Saxony with the help of the Border Protection Group 9 (GSG 9), an anti-terror and special operations unit, the police said. Besides the bitcoins, the police found evidence of other hacking activities, fraud, violations of copyright law as well as criminal offenses related to the spread of pornographic texts, the police said.

While there are three suspects, only two were arrested. The police did not get an arrest warrant for the third, the spokeswoman said. In Germany, certain conditions need to be met to get an arrest warrant. The suspect for instance has to be a flight risk or it must be likely that the suspect will dispose of further evidence, she said, adding that those conditions were not met in this case.

The police did search the third suspect's house though and conducted an interview, she said.

The suspects will now be heard and the police will examine the seized evidence, which includes computers and storage media, the spokeswoman said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags legalGerman Federal Criminal Police Office

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?