Shropshire IT specialists are warning businesses across the county to protect themselves after a multi-million pound internet banking fraud which drained thousands of pounds from the UK accounts of innocent victims was cracked by police.

A gang of Eastern Europeans made £2 million a month from online accounts by stealing victims log-in details using sophisticated software which can be bought for just £300 over the internet.

They made £6m in just three months and detectives believe they could have reaped as much as £20m in the highly organised scam.

Chris Pallett, IT expert and Managing Director of Bespoke Computing Ltd in Telford, today said although the culprits have now been caught scams such as this could continue if security measures are not taken.

He said: “Installing a comprehensive anti-virus solution is essential to protecting yourself from these types of threats.  Many people don’t do this, using the Internet with freeware products or no protection at all.

“It is also important to ensure that all of your critical updates are installed and that your regularly used programmes are also updated.”

Mark James, UK Technical Manager at anti-virus vendor ESET recently urged internet users to take responsibility for their own security.

He said too many internet users are naive when it comes to maintaining a level of security on their computer and other internet connected equipment.

“For too long there has been a stigma that installing updates will affect the smooth running of your computer, this attitude needs to change,” he added.

For more information about protecting you and your business on the Internet, you can contact Bespoke Computing Ltd on 0845 004 3025.

The mastermind behind the scam, who detectives believe is an adept IT expert, was among 19 arrested in a series of dawn raids across London.

He and his team targeted hundreds of victims who had weak security on their computers and accessed their user names and passwords despite tight security systems put in place by the banks on their internet sites.

Police were alerted by high street banks who were alarmed a sudden surge in fraud.

Investigators from Scotland Yard’s e-Crime Unit discovered that the gang were hitting vulnerable computers using software which is described in the industry as a ‘Trojan horse’ because it infiltrates the computer without the user realising.

The system called ‘Zeus’ or ‘Zbot’ infects victims’ personal computers, waits for them to log onto a list of specifically targeted banks and financial institutions and then steals their personal credentials, forwarding the data to a server controlled by criminals.