It was mid November 2011. I was shivering on the upper deck of an aging cruise ship docked at the harbor in downtown Rotterdam. Inside, a big-band was jamming at a reception for attendees of the GovCert cybersecurity conference, where I had delivered a presentation earlier that day on a long-running turf war between two of the largest sponsors of spam.
The evening was bracingly frigid and blustery, and I was waiting there to be introduced to investigators from the Russian Federal Security Service; several FSB agents who attended the conference told our Dutch hosts that they wanted to meet me in a private setting. Stepping out the night air, a woman from the conference approached, formally presented the three men behind her, and then hurried back inside to the warmth of the reception
A Wikileaks-style war of attrition between two competing rogue Internet pharmacy gangs has exposed some of the biggest spammers on the planet. The latest casualties? Several individuals likely responsible for running Grum, currently the world’s most active spam botnet.
I spoke this week at Govcert 2011, a security conference in Rotterdam. The talk drew heavily on material from my Pharma Wars series, about the alleged proprietors of two competing rogue Internet pharmacies who sought to destroy the others’ reputation… Read More »
A Moscow court on Monday denied bail for Pavel Vrublevsky, a Russian businessman who was charged earlier this year with hiring hackers to launch costly online attacks against his rivals. The denial came even after Vrublevsky apparently admitted his role… Read More »
In June 2011, Russian authorities arrested Pavel Vrublevsky, co-founder of ChronoPay, Russia’s largest processor of online payments, for allegedly hiring a hacker to attack his company’s rivals. New evidence suggests that Vrublevsky’s arrest was the product of a bribe paid… Read More »
Leaked online chats between the co-owners of the world’s largest pharmacy spam operation reveal the extent to which illicit organizations in Russia purchase political protection, and bribe public officials into initiating or stalling law enforcement investigations.
A majority of the largest fake AV affiliate programs that pay hackers to foist junk security software have closed up shop in recent weeks. The wave of closures comes amid heightened scrutiny of the industry from security experts and a host of international law enforcement officials.
Over the past several weeks, many of the Web sites for the top fake AV promotion programs disappeared or complained of difficulty in processing credit card transactions for would-be scwareware victims: Fake AV brands such as Gagarincash, Best AV, Blacksoftware.cc and a Sevantivir.com ceased operating or alerted peddlers who were hired to install these programs that they might not get paid for current and future installations.
Russian authorities on Thursday arrested Pavel Vrublevsky, co-founder of ChronoPay, the country’s largest processor of online payments, for allegedly hiring a hacker to attack his company’s rivals. Vrublevsky, 32, is probably best known as the co-owner of the Rx-Promotion rogue… Read More »
Pavel Vrublevsky, the embattled co-founder of ChronoPay — Russia’s largest online payments processor — has reportedly fled the country after the arrest of a suspect who confessed that he was hired by Vrublevsky to launch a debilitating cyber attack against… Read More »
An online criminal enterprise, as tightly structured as any legitimate business corporation, was exposed in 2010. Emails and documents stolen from employees of ChronoPay — Russia’s largest online payments processor — were shared with a select group of law enforcement agencies and with KrebsOnSecurity.com. The communications provide the strongest evidence yet that a notorious rogue online pharmacy and other shady enterprises are controlled by ChronoPay executives and employees.
The leaked ChronoPay email show that in August 2010 ChronoPay CEO Pavel Vrublevsky authorized a payment of 37,350 Russian Rubles (about $1,200) for a multi-user license of an Intranet service called MegaPlan. The documents indicate that Vrublevsky ordered the service to help manage the sprawling projects related to ChronoPay’s “black” operations, including the processing of payments for rogue anti-virus software, violent “rape” porn sites, and knockoff prescription drugs sold through hundreds of Web sites affiliated with a rogue online pharmacy program called Rx-Promotion.com.
ChronoPay employees were assigned MegaPlan accounts to track payment processing issues, order volumes and advertising partnerships for these black programs. In a move straight out of the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs, the employees adopted nicknames like “Mr. Kink, Mr. Heppner,” and “Ms. Nati.” MegaPlan offers an application that makes it simple for clients to create organizational charts, and the account paid for by ChronoPay includes a chart showing the hierarchy and reporting structure of these divisions.