KrebsOnSecurity recently had occasion to contact the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In the process of doing so, I encountered a small snag: The FSB’s website said in order to contact them securely, I needed to download and install an encryption and virtual private networking (VPN) appliance that is flagged by at least 20 antivirus products as malware.
The reason I contacted the FSB — one of the successor agencies to the Russian KGB — ironically enough had to do with security concerns raised about the FSB’s own preferred method of being contacted.
U.S. government cybersecurity agencies warned this week that the attackers behind the widespread hacking spree stemming from the compromise at network software firm SolarWinds used weaknesses in other, non-SolarWinds products to attack high-value targets. According to sources, among those was a flaw in software virtualization platform VMware, which the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) warned on Dec. 7 was being used by Russian hackers to impersonate authorized users on victim networks.
Federal investigators in Russia have charged at least 25 people accused of operating a sprawling international credit card theft ring. Cybersecurity experts say the raid included the charging of a major carding kingpin thought to be tied to dozens of carding shops and to some of the bigger data breaches targeting western retailers over the past decade.
In a statement released this week, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said 25 individuals were charged with circulating illegal means of payment in connection with some 90 websites that sold stolen credit card data.
Roman Seleznev, a 32-year-old Russian cybercriminal and prolific credit card thief, was sentenced Friday to 27 years in federal prison. That is a record punishment for hacking violations in the United States and by all accounts one designed to send a message to criminal hackers everywhere. But a close review of the case suggests that Seleznev’s record sentence was severe in large part because the evidence against him was substantial and yet he declined to cooperate with prosecutors prior to his trial.
The son of an influential Russian politician, Seleznev made international headlines in 2014 after he was captured while vacationing in The Maldives, a popular vacation spot for Russians and one that many Russian cybercriminals previously considered to be out of reach for western law enforcement agencies. He was whisked away to Guam briefly before being transported to Washington state to stand trial for computer hacking charges.
A chief criticism I heard from readers of my book, Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime, was that it dealt primarily with petty crooks involved in petty crimes, while ignoring more substantive security issues like government surveillance and cyber war. But now it appears that the chief antagonist of Spam Nation is at the dead center of an international scandal involving the hacking of U.S. state electoral boards in Arizona and Illinois, the sacking of Russia’s top cybercrime investigators, and the slow but steady leak of unflattering data on some of Russia’s most powerful politicians.
The creator of a popular crimeware package known as the Phoenix Exploit Kit was arrested in his native Russia for distributing malicious software and for illegally possessing multiple firearms, according to underground forum posts from the malware author himself.
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
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.
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 »