The FBI has announced that one of the most important creators of the SpyEye banking malware kit has pled guilty in an Atlanta, Georgia court.
Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, a Russian national, admitted to being one of the main developers and distributors of the banking malware, planned to cooperation PCs and connect them to botnets of equally backdoored systems.
The most important purpose of the hijacks was to harvest banking login details through various methods, and feed data back to its operators. Later versions also targeted Android phones.
Panin’s making formed the basis of a main marketable enterprise, with the malware sold to over 150 consumers through underground cybercrime forums.
These clients then ran their own operations, connecting them infecting upwards of 1.4 million systems and stealing huge amounts of cash from compromised bank accounts – one operator alone is thought to have scooped up over $3 million in just six months, and over 10,000 bank financial records are thought to have been accessed in 2013 alone.
The inquiry hinged on the seizure of a command-and-control server in the Northern District of the US state of Georgia in early 2011. Following this, undercover FBI agents contacted Panin to buy a copy of his malware, reported to be advertising for between $1000 and $8500.
This led to a 23-count indictment being brought in December 2011, top Panin and Bendelladj. Bendelladj was picked up at an airfield in Thailand en route to Algeria, and extradited to the US in May of 2013.
Panin made the mistake of taking a flight between through Atlanta airport, and he was under arrest there in July 2013. His guilty plea was entered on 28 January 2014, and he is scheduled for sentencing in April 2014.
At least four other arrests have been made in link with Panin and SpyEye, in territories as well as the UK and Bulgaria.
The FBI also credit fellow law enforcement agencies in Australia, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic and Thailand, making for another major universal case showing impressive cooperation across borders.
This success seems to challenge the current gripes of a top UK lawyer, who complained that police don’t make sufficient effort to combat cybercrime and banking fraud.
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