It’s nice when ransomware gangs have their bitcoin stolen, malware servers shut down, or are otherwise forced to disband. We hang on to these occasional victories because history tells us that most ransomware moneymaking collectives don’t go away so much as reinvent themselves under a new name, with new rules, targets and weaponry. Indeed, some of the most destructive and costly ransomware groups are now in their third incarnation over as many years.
Reinvention is a basic survival skill in the cybercrime business. Among the oldest tricks in the book is to fake one’s demise or retirement and invent a new identity. A key goal of such subterfuge is to throw investigators off the scent or to temporarily direct their attention elsewhere.
Cybercriminal syndicates also perform similar disappearing acts whenever it suits them. These organizational reboots are an opportunity for ransomware program leaders to set new ground rules for their members — such as which types of victims aren’t allowed (e.g., hospitals, governments, critical infrastructure), or how much of a ransom payment an affiliate should expect for bringing the group access to a new victim network.
When law enforcement agencies tout their latest cybercriminal arrest, the defendant is often cast as a bravado outlaw engaged in sophisticated, lucrative, even exciting activity. But new research suggests that as cybercrime has become dominated by pay-for-service offerings, the vast majority of day-to-day activity needed to support these enterprises is in fact mind-numbingly boring and tedious, and that highlighting this reality may be a far more effective way combat cybercrime and steer offenders toward a better path.
Authorities in Europe have arrested alleged key players behind the development and deployment of ultra-sophisticated banking malware, including Citadel and Dridex. The arrests involved a Russian national and a Moldovan man, both of whom were traveling outside of their native countries and are now facing extradition to the United States.
New research into a notorious Eastern European organized cybercrime gang accused of stealing than $100 million from banks and businesses worldwide provides an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes look at an exclusive “business club” that dabbled in cyber espionage and worked closely with phantom Chinese firms on Russia’s far eastern border.
The FBI this week announced it is offering a USD $3 million bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of one Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, a Russian man the government believes is responsible for building and distributing the ZeuS banking Trojan.
So much of the intelligence gathered about Bogachev and his alleged accomplices has been scattered across various court documents and published reports over the years, but probably just as much on this criminal mastermind and his associates has never seen the light of day. What follows is a compendium of knowledge — a bit of a dossier, if you will — of Bogachev and his trusted associates.
Until today, Microsoft Windows users who’ve been unfortunate enough to have the personal files on their computer encrypted and held for ransom by a nasty strain of malware called CryptoLocker have been faced with a tough choice: Pay cybercrooks a ransom of a few hundred to several thousand dollars to unlock the files, or kiss those files goodbye forever. That changed this morning, when two security firms teamed up to launch a free new online service that can help victims unlock and recover files scrambled by the malware.
Cybercrooks today began taking steps to resurrect the Gameover ZeuS botnet, a complex crime machine that has been blamed for the theft more than $100 million from banks, businesses and consumers worldwide. The revival attempt comes roughly five weeks after the FBI joined several nations, researchers and security firms in a global and thus far successful effort to eradicate it.
When you’re planning to rob the Russian cyber mob, you’d better be sure that you have the element of surprise, that you can make a clean getaway, and that you understand how your target is going to respond. Today’s column features an interview with two security experts who helped plan and execute this week’s global, collaborative effort to hijack the Gameover Zeus botnet, an extremely resilient and sophisticated crime machine that helped an elite group of thieves steal more than $100 million from banks, businesses and consumers worldwide
The U.S. Justice Department is expected to announce today an international law enforcement operation to seize control over the Gameover ZeuS botnet, a sprawling network of hacked Microsoft Windows computers that currently infects an estimated 500,000 to 1 million compromised systems globally. Experts say PCs infected with Gameover are being harvested for sensitive financial and personal data, and rented out to an elite cadre of hackers for use in online extortion attacks, spam and other illicit moneymaking schemes.