A Russian spammer suspected of being the man behind the infamous Rustock spam botnet earned millions of dollars blasting junk email for counterfeit Internet pharmacies. Those ill-gotten riches allowed him to buy flashy sports cars, but new information suggests they also attracted the attention of common street thugs who targeted and ultimately mugged the spammer, stealing two of his prized rides.
Microsoft has fingered a possible author of the late Rustock spam botnet – a self-described software engineer and mathematician who aspired to one day be hired by Google. Microsoft has apparently allocated significant resources to finding the author, but has not been able to locate him.
Rustock remains dead, but Microsoft is still on the hunt for the Rustock author. In its Second Status Report (PDF) filed last week with a district court in Seattle, Microsoft said it inquired with Webmoney about the owner of the account, and confirmed that it was affiliated with a man named Vladimir Alexandrovich Shergin. Microsoft also mentioned another suspect, “Cosma2k,” possibly named Dmitri A. Sergeev, Artem Sergeev, or Sergey Vladomirovich Sergeev. Microsoft said it is continuing its investigation of these names, to determine whether additional contact information can be identified and to which notice and service can be effected.
Who controlled the Rustock botnet? The question remains unanswered: Microsoft’s recent takedown of the world’s largest spam engine offered tantalizing new clues to the identity and earnings of the Rustock botmasters. The data shows that Rustock’s curators made millions by pimping rogue Internet pharmacies, but also highlights the challenges that investigators still face in tracking down those responsible for building and profiting from this complex crime machine.