MANILA, Philippines - The computer systems of four established schools were accessed and used by cyber criminals in illegal activities, the Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) bared.
ACG chief Senior Superintendent Gilbert Sosa said the schools’ computer system was infected with “botnet” virus, allowing cyber criminals to access the schools’ servers. The cyber criminals then assumed their identities and transacted business with other institutions.
“There are big schools with the entire network infected by botnet or robot network...The botnet used to attack financial institutions in the US,” Sosa said, adding that the incident happened in 2013.
Sosa said the academic institutions were not even aware of the infection until the ACG alerted them about it. He noted that it was their foreign counterpart that first noticed the illegal operations, and in turn alerted the ACG.
“We called their (officials of the schools) attention. We sought an audience with them and informed them that botnet virus infected their computer systems. We advised them to remove a certain feature to disable the virus,” Sosa said.
“The robot network is a kind of virus which infects computers, their command and control. With the virus, cyber criminals could control even 1,000 computers and steal information,” he said.
He explained that the virus infection is technically not hacking because the rightful owner can still access the computer system. In hacking, cyber criminals steal information and bar the rightful owner from access.
He noted that although the virus infection was recorded last year, the situation only showed the vulnerability of the computer systems in the Philippines.
He said that they have not inquired about the amount of money lost in the illegal activities since the ACG is interested in the virus and how to detect and disable it.
Sosa urged the public to be vigilant since there are hundreds of thousands of viruses being created daily.
“So cyber criminals’ organized crime would then have a research team to develop new types of virus, which they can use,” he added.