SophosLabs malware expert Dirk Kollberg and independent researcher Jan Droemer worked with an extensive team across the industry. In this exclusive, Droemer and Kollberg share a wealth of findings, including the perpetrators' nicknames, online activities, physical locations and business dealings:
Koobface (an anagram of "Facebook") spreads via social networking sites, infecting PCs and building a botnet of compromised computers. It is so sophisticated it can even create its own social networking accounts, so that it can aggressively post links helping it to spread further.
The creators of Koobface, whose names have not been public until today, earn millions of dollars every year by compromising computers.
Droemer and Kollberg's research took place between October 2009 and February 2010, but the authorities requested that it be kept confidential to allow them the necessary time to build a case.
"It's an incredible detective story of tireless investigation, which involved scouring the Internet, searching company records and taking advantage of schoolboy social networking errors made by the suspected criminals, their friends and family. We know the gang's names, their phone numbers, where their office is, what they look like, what cars they drive, even their mobile phone numbers," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Now, we have to wait and see what, if any, action the authorities will take against the Koobface gang."