The Russian government today handed down a treason conviction and 14-year prison sentence on Iyla Sachkov, the former founder and CEO of one of Russia’s largest cybersecurity firms. Sachkov, 37, has been detained for nearly two years under charges that the Kremlin has kept classified and hidden from public view, and he joins a growing roster of former Russian cybercrime fighters who are now serving hard time for farcical treason convictions.
Nikita Kislitsin, formerly the head of network security for one of Russia’s top cybersecurity firms, was arrested last week in Kazakhstan in response to 10-year-old hacking charges from the U.S. Department of Justice. Experts say Kislitsin’s prosecution could soon put the Kazakhstan government in a sticky diplomatic position, as the Kremlin is already signaling that it intends to block his extradition to the United States.
Authorities in the United States and United Kingdom today levied financial sanctions against seven men accused of operating “Trickbot,” a cybercrime-as-a-service platform based in Russia that has enabled countless ransomware attacks and bank account takeovers since its debut in 2016. The U.S. Department of the Treasury says the Trickbot group is associated with Russian intelligence services, and that this alliance led to the targeting of many U.S. companies and government entities.
Phishers are enjoying remarkable success using text messages to steal remote access credentials and one-time passcodes from employees at some of the world’s largest technology companies and customer support firms. A recent spate of SMS phishing attacks from one cybercriminal group has spawned a flurry of breach disclosures from affected companies, which are all struggling to combat the same lingering security threat: The ability of scammers to interact directly with employees through their mobile devices.
Earlier this month, the administrator of the cybercrime forum Breached received a cease-and-desist letter from a cybersecurity firm. The missive alleged that an auction on the site for data stolen from 10 million customers of Mexico’s second-largest bank was fake news and harming the bank’s reputation. The administrator responded to this empty threat by purchasing the stolen banking data and leaking it on the forum for everyone to download.
ValidCC, a dark web bazaar run by a cybercrime group that for more than six years hacked online merchants and sold stolen payment card data, abruptly closed up shop last week. The proprietors of the popular store said their servers were seized as part of a coordinated law enforcement operation designed to disconnect and confiscate its infrastructure.
A new strain of ransomware dubbed “Petya” is worming its way around the world with alarming speed. The malware appears to be spreading using a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that the software giant patched in March 2017 — the same bug that was exploited by the recent and prolific WannaCry ransomware strain.
A Moscow court this week convicted and sentenced seven hackers for breaking into countless online bank accounts — including “Paunch,” the nickname used by the author of the infamous “Blackhole” exploit kit. Once an extremely popular crimeware-as-a-service offering, Blackhole was for several years responsible for a large percentage of malware infections and stolen banking credentials, and likely contributed to tens of millions of dollars stolen from small to mid-sized businesses over several years.
I received a number of media requests and emails from readers over the weekend to comment on a front-page New York Times story about an organized gang of cybercriminals pulling off “one of the largest bank heists ever.” Turns out, I reported on this gang’s activities in December 2014, although my story ran minus many of the superlatives in the Times piece.
An organized gang of hackers from Russia and Ukraine has broken into internal networks at dozens of financial institutions and installed malicious software that allowed the gang to drain bank ATMs of cash. While none of the victim institutions were in the United States or Western Europe, experts say the stealthy methods used by the attackers in these heists would likely work across a broad range of western banks.