KrebsOnSecurity has obtained an exclusive look inside the back-end operations of the recently-destroyed Grum spam botnet. It appears that the crime machine was larger and more complex than many experts had imagined. It also looks like my previous research into the identity of the Grum botmaster was right on target.
Microsoft on Monday named a Russian man as allegedly the guy responsible for running the Kelihos botnet, a spam engine that infected an estimated 40,000 PCs. But closely held data seized from the world’s largest spam affiliate program suggests that the driving force behind Kelihos is a different individual who is still coordinating spam campaigns for hire.
Kelihos shares a great deal of code with the infamous Waledac botnet, a far more pervasive threat that infected hundreds of thousands of computers and pumped out tens of billions of junk emails promoting shady online pharmacies. Despite the broad base of shared code between the two malware families, Microsoft classifies them as fundamentally different threats. The company used clever legal techniques to seize control over and shutter both botnets, sucker punching Waledac in early 2010 and taking out Kelihos last fall.
On Monday, Microsoft filed papers with a Virginia court stating that Kelihos was run by Andrey N. Sabelnikov, a St. Petersburg man who once worked at Russian antivirus and security firm Agnitum. But according to the researcher who shared that intelligence with Microsoft — and confidentially with Krebs On Security weeks prior to Microsoft’s announcement — Sabelnikov is likely only a developer of Kelihos. Rather, the researcher argues, the true coordinator of both Kelihos and Waledac is another Russian man who is well known to anti-spam activists.
A man identified as one of the world’s top purveyors of junk e-mail has been imprisoned in Russia for allegedly having sex with underage girls, KrebsOnSecurity.com has learned.
According to multiple sources, Leonid “Leo” Aleksandorovich Kuvayev, 38, was sent to a prison in the Russian Federation roughly six months ago. It is not clear how long his sentence is or precisely where he is being held.
A proposal to let Internet service providers conceal the contact information for their business customers is drawing fire from a number of experts in the security community, who say the change will make it harder to mitigate the threat from botnets and malicious software.