Police said the men, a 19 year-old electrician and an unemployed 21 year-old from Durham, were part of an international hacking group, known as “THr34t-Krew".
The group, identified by a joint US/UK police investigation, is said to be behind the TK worm which infected about 18,000 computers around the world. The worm exploits a vulnerability found on some Microsoft IIS (Internet Information System) Web servers. A patch to fix that bug was issued in May 2001.
The hackers took control of infected computers and used them to scan for vulnerabilities in other machines or to launch distributed denial of service attacks.
“Hacking and virus writing are serious crimes. They are costing UK firms million of pounds in lost business and downtime. Our task is to track down those people who seek to hamper companies by reducing their ability to do business,” said Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, the deputy heard of the NHTCU.
The arrests follow a joint operation by Durham police and the US multiagency Computer and Technology Crime Hi-Tech Response Team.
Police have seized computers addresses in Durham and further evidence was seized in a simultaneous raid in Illinois. The NHTCU said it was unable to comment further on the arrests as criminal proceedings were active.
Just last month British virus writer Simon Vallor was sentenced to two years in prison for writing three viruses that infected 27,000 computers in more than 40 countries.