Left Menu
Development News Edition

UPDATE 8-U.S. cracks down on Russian 'Evil Corp' hackers after $100 mln spree


UPDATE 8-U.S. cracks down on Russian 'Evil Corp' hackers after $100 mln spree

U.S. authorities on Thursday targeted a Russian cybercriminal group known as Evil Corp, indicting its Lamborghini-driving alleged leader and ordering asset freezes against 17 of his associates over a global, $100 million digital crime spree. The action against Evil Corp., described by officials as one of the most damaging criminal organizations on the internet, comes with a $5 million bounty issued for information leading to the arrest of its alleged leader, Maksim Yakubets.

British authorities described the 32-year-old Yakubets as a supercar-lover who customized his Lamborghini license plate to read "Thief" in Russian and ran his operation from the basements of Moscow cafes. "Yakubets is a true 21st century criminal," U.S. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said. "He's earned his place on the FBI's list of the world's most wanted cyber criminals."

Evil Corp is alleged to be behind an ever-evolving family of malicious software known as Dridex, which has bedeviled banks and businesses since it first appeared in 2011. The malware works by hacking into banks and businesses and making rogue financial transfers that are eventually funneled back to the hackers. It has since also branched out into ransomware. Underlining alleged links between cybercriminals and the Russian state, U.S. Treasury officials said Yakubets worked on the side for Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), its domestic intelligence agency, and stole classified material on Moscow’s behalf.

One senior U.S. Treasury official said he had even applied to the FSB for a license last year to handle secret documents. Even so, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said the Russian government had been "helpful to a point" in their request to track the hackers down. He and other U.S. officials declined to comment on whether either of the two men had links to the Russian government.

The FSB did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment sent after hours in Russia on Thursday. The Kremlin said on Friday that Moscow has repeatedly called for closer international cooperation on investigations into cyber crime, which it described as a "very serious" challenge, but that its proposals have been broadly rejected.

The Dridex malware targeted smaller businesses and organizations that lacked the sophisticated cyberdefenses of larger organizations, U.S. officials said. GLOBAL SPREE

Though the indictments only mentioned incidents in Nebraska and Pennsylvania, victims spanned the United States - including a dairy company in Ohio, a luggage firm in New Mexico and a religious order in Nebraska, Bowdich told a news conference. Losses totaled $70 million in the United States alone, officials said.

The crackdown straddled the world of cybercrime and intelligence. The U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments worked in coordination with Britain’s National Crime Agency, which published a series of photographs and video of the hacker's lavish, devil-may-care lifestyle that featured pictures of his camouflaged car streaked with florescent yellow. The director general of the British agency, Lynne Owens, said Yakubets and Evil Corp "represent the most significant cyber crime threat to the U.K.," a sentiment endorsed by John Shier, an expert at U.K.-based cybersecurity company Sophos.

"I’d put them in the top tier," he said of the group’s operators. American and British companies were targets of choice, according to U.S. Treasury officials, but they said France, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, India and Malaysia were also badly affected.

In addition to Yakubets, his close associate Igor Turashev, 38, was also indicted in the United States on Thursday for allegedly serving as the group's technical administrator. British authorities say they have already arrested and convicted eight other members of the network. Reuters could not immediately locate contact details for Yakubets and Turashev, who have not been arrested and are believed to be still at large.

This is at least the second major effort by American authorities and their allies to bring down Evil Corp - whose eye-catching name appears to be more of nickname than a formal company. A 2015 indictment charged Yakubets and Turashev with a series of fraud and hacking crimes, but they were never arrested and - following a brief disruption - Dridex went right back to stealing money. Shier, of Sophos, said Thursday's attempt appeared to be more robust - but he doubted that Yakubets would ever see justice. "What are the chances this guy is going to face trial in the United States?" he said. "Probably next to zero."

Even so, officials described the charges as an important step that strips the hackers of their anonymity and makes it more difficult for them to travel internationally. Benczkowski, head of the U.S. Justice Department's Criminal Division, said the group was carrying out crimes as recently as May. "It is fair to say they are not out of business at this point," he said. "But that is our ultimate goal."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Download The Devdiscourse News App for Latest News.


TRENDING

OPINION/BLOG/INTERVIEW

WEF2020: Trump seems politically correct in pulling out from Paris Agreement

If the survey of the World Economic Forum WEF is believed, Trump seems to enjoy the confidence of his people in flaying climate intuitions and climate activists. His preference for economic development over environmental protection not only...

From home to healthcare, here are Robotic innovations transforming lives

Lovot is equipped with more than 50 sensors such as thermography, microphone array, obstacle detection, and touch sensor to generate motion and emotions in real-time....

Translating words to deeds: Achieving gender parity in access to financial resources

... ...

SDG13: How you can reduce global warming by changing your food habits

The mega narratives of various international organizations give the impression that fighting global warming is only a job of government agencies. However, the European Investment Bank EIB has designed a questionnaire which besides making th...

Videos

Latest News

Venezuela: a year of power struggle

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president a year ago in a bid to oust Nicolas Maduro, winning the backing of more than 50 countries. As he meets with political leaders in Europe this week, here is an overview...

Former Bolivian leader Morales holds rally in Argentina marking end of term

Bolivian ex-president Evo Morales, who is looking to steer his party to a new election win from afar this year, held a celebratory event to mark the end of his presidential term on Wednesday from exile in Buenos Aires. Morales is living und...

WRAPUP 1-China locks down epicentre of virus outbreak; nearly 600 infected

China is putting on lockdown a city of 11 million people considered the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 and infected nearly 600 people, as health authorities around the world work to prevent a global pandemic. T...

UPDATE 1-PG&E strikes deal with creditors over restructuring

Bankrupt California power producer PGE Corp said on Wednesday it had reached a deal on its restructuring with creditors, who were pushing for a rival plan.PGE said its creditors, led by Elliott Management and Pacific Investment Management C...

Give Feedback