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10 arrested in social network hacking

WASHINGTON — International authorities announced on Tuesday the arrests of 10 more individuals accused of hacking into social networks.

The Justice Department said the FBI and international agencies were assisted in their investigations by Facebook, whose users were among those targeted by the software used by cybercriminals to steal from unwitting computer users in the last few years.

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Facebook’s security teams helped to ‘‘identify the root cause, the perpetrators, and those affected by the malware,’’ or malicious software, the agency said in a news release.

The agencies arrested suspects from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, Britain, and the United States, it said.

The suspects used two well-documented forms of software, known as Yahos malware and the Butterfly botnet, officials said.

Versions of the software have long been trafficked among criminals who spread it over social networks and by other means, compromising the security of infected computers and enabling criminals to access personal data.

Some 11 million computers are said to have been affected since it was first introduced, and over $850 million in losses have been attributed to variants of this kind of software, which has been closely studied and, to a degree, thwarted by security measures. A Justice Department official said those figures, cited in its announcement, referred to the cumulative damage from the long-running problem, not a measurement of the damage done by the people who were just arrested. Security firms and social networks are generally on the lookout for this particular malware, and software to detect and eliminate it has been available for years. The department urged computer users to take common-sense measures, such as anti-virus scanning, to guard against the risk of infections, and said people who suspect they have been victimized should file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet crime complaint center at www.ic3.gov.

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