Massive Money-Stealing Botnet Suspect Arrested In Russia

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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A 22-year-old allegedly used 6 million computers to steal £2.9 million, as part of a major botnet operation

The cybercrime division of the Russian police arrested a 22-year-old on Friday, who is allegedly responsible for stealing 150 million rubles (£2.9m) from online banking users.

The young criminal allegedly managed a six million-strong botnet, one of the largest of its kind, to infect systems with Trojans, and used the information he obtained to transfer money to his accounts. It is believed he then spent those funds on a luxury lifestyle, involving fast cars and real estate.

The son of Zeus

According to Ria Novosti, the botnet, built by the hacker known under aliases “Hermes” and “Arashi”, involved around 6 million computers. The majority were located in Russia, in the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The network was used to spread malware that was then used to steal people’s banking details.

This is the biggest banking Trojan botnet ever to be uncovered in Russia, according to reports, and one of the biggest in the world. Every day, the botnet operator would attempt to install malware on around 1 million computers, which meant that on some days, around 100,000 computers would join the network.

For his operation, Hermes allegedly used modifications of familiar banking Trojans, such as Carberp. After getting his hands on log-in and password information, the culprit would transfer the money from the accounts of legitimate users into his own fake company accounts, it was claimed. The money was then withdrawn using ATMs.

Hermes would also rent his botnet out to other hackers all around the country as an additional source of income, it was alleged.

The cybercriminal was living it large, using the money he stole to buy several expensive cars and a house in a Russian resort town, but he also started investing in legitimate companies, according to the allegations.

Tracking Hermes down took the Russian cybercrime unit “Division K” ten months. The youngster now faces a lengthy term in jail.

In March, Division K arrested a group of hackers which used banking Trojans to steal at least 60 million rubles (£1.3m) in a similar manner.

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