A SCOTTISH computer security expert is facing prison after admitting being a key member in a sophisticated international gang of hackers.
Matthew Anderson, 33, of Drummuir, Aberdeenshire, abused his knowledge to target hundreds of businesses with spam containing hidden viruses.
He was caught after an investigation by Scotland Yard and authorities in Finland into a gang writing computer viruses to order.
Anderson pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to offences under the Computer Misuse Act between September 2005 and June 2006, a Met spokesman said.
Investigators discovered the gang, known online as the m00p group, were infecting computers using viruses attached to unsolicited commercial emails.
Anderson composed and distributed millions of spam messages with virus attachments before distributing them.
The viruses ran in the background on an infected computer and allowed Anderson to access private and commercial data stored on them. He was also able to activate webcams, effectively spying on users in their homes and sometimes taking screengrabs.
The hacker also made copies of private documents such as wills, medical reports, CVs, password lists and private photographs.
Anderson, who used the profile names of "aobuluz" and "warpigs", operated behind the front of Optom Security, which offered security software online.
Detective Constable Bob Burls, of the Met's e-crime unit, said: "This organised online criminal network infected huge numbers of computers around the world, especially targeting UK businesses and individuals.
"Matthew Anderson methodically exploited computer users not only for his own financial gain but also violating their privacy. They used sophisticated computer code to commit their crimes.
"The internet means criminals have increased opportunities to commit crime internationally; however I'd like to reassure the public that the international law enforcement and anti-virus companies' response is increasingly sophisticated.
"As this case shows, criminals can't hide online and are being held to account for their actions. A complex investigation like this demonstrates what international co-operation can achieve."
Anderson will be sentenced at the same court on 22 November.