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Police takedown computer network used to infect millions of devices

1st December 2016

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is asking people to protect themselves from malware after a computer network known as Avalanche has been taken down. 

Avalanche, which was set up in 2009, was used to send out millions of fraudulent emails weekly enabling cybercriminals to steal personal information such as financial details. At any given time up to 500,000 computers worldwide are believed to have been carrying infections distributed through the Avalanche network.

On 30 November 2016 a global operation by police forces from more than 30 countries, including the UK, resulted in criminal enterprises losing access to Avalanche.

In a single day of coordinated action, more than 830,000 malicious web domains were taken down, breaking the channel between criminals and the computers they controlled.

In addition, five individuals were arrested, 37 premises were searched and 39 servers were seized, while 221 servers were put offline through abuse notifications sent to the hosting providers. Victims of malware were identified in over 180 countries.

Malware on the Avalanche system concentrated on but was not limited to Windows PC vulnerabilities.

To help protect yourself from the threat of malware you should ensure that you always download the latest software and app updates which contain vital security upgrades to help protect your devices.  

Remember if an email or SMS text message is unexpected or you do not recognise the sender always take care not to open attachments, or click on links.

Free malware removal tools

If you think your computer has been infected you can use the below list of free tools to scan your computer and remove the malware. Only consider downloading anti-virus from websites that you have researched and are trusted:

ESET Online Scanner
Click link and follow instructions to download

McAfee Stinger
Click link and follow instructions to download

Norton Power Eraser
Click link and follow instructions to download

F-Secure
Click link and follow instructions to download

For additional online safety advice visit Get Safe Online and Cyber Aware.

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To report a fraud and cyber crime and receive a police crime reference number, call us on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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