Pavel Vrublevsky, founder of the Russian payment technology firm ChronoPay and the antagonist in my 2014 book “Spam Nation,” was arrested in Moscow this month and charged with fraud. Russian authorities allege Vrublevsky operated several fraudulent SMS-based payment schemes, and facilitated money laundering for Hydra, the largest Russian darknet market. But according to information obtained by KrebsOnSecurity, it is equally likely Vrublevsky was arrested thanks to his propensity for carefully documenting the links between Russia’s state security services and the cybercriminal underground.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been inundated with questions from readers asking why I haven’t written much about two stories that have consumed the news media of late: The alleged Russian hacking attacks against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and, more recently, the discovery of malware on a laptop at a Vermont power utility that has been attributed to Russian hacker groups. I’ve avoided covering these stories mainly because I don’t have any original reporting to add to them, and because I generally avoid chasing the story of the day — preferring instead to focus on producing original journalism on cybercrime and computer security.