A federal judge in Connecticut today handed down a sentence of time served to spam kingpin Peter “Severa” Levashov, a prolific purveyor of malicious and junk email, and the creator of malware strains that infected millions of Microsoft computers globally. Levashov has been in federal custody since his extradition to the United States and guilty plea in 2018, and was facing up to 12 more years in prison. Instead, he will go free under three years of supervised release and a possible fine.
A majority of the largest fake AV affiliate programs that pay hackers to foist junk security software have closed up shop in recent weeks. The wave of closures comes amid heightened scrutiny of the industry from security experts and a host of international law enforcement officials.
Over the past several weeks, many of the Web sites for the top fake AV promotion programs disappeared or complained of difficulty in processing credit card transactions for would-be scwareware victims: Fake AV brands such as Gagarincash, Best AV, Blacksoftware.cc and a Sevantivir.com ceased operating or alerted peddlers who were hired to install these programs that they might not get paid for current and future installations.
An explosion of online fraud tools and services online makes it easier than ever for novices to get started in computer crime. At the same time, a growing body of evidence suggests that much of the world’s cybercrime activity may be the work of a core group of miscreants who’ve been at it for many years.
I recently highlighted the financial links among the organizations responsible for promoting fake antivirus products and spam-advertised pharmacies; all were relying on a few banks in Azerbaijan to process credit card payments.