Justice Dept. charges Russian hacker behind the Dridex malware

Clay Curtis
December 5, 2019

In addition to Yakubets, his close associate Igor Turashev was also indicted in the United States earlier this week for allegedly handling various functions for the group.

Once a computer was infected, the group allegedly stole personal banking information which was used to transfer funds.

The US Treasury Department announced new sanctions Thursday on a Russian-based cybercriminal organization called "Evil Corp" for using malware to steal more than $100 million from hundreds of banks and financial institutions.

Yakubets is the leader of Evil Corp, according to the Treasury Department, and Turashev worked as "an administrator for Yakubets and had control over the Dridex malware".

Evil Corp used phishing schemes to insert Dridex, Bugat and other malware files on a victims' computers, gaining access to identities, passwords, and ultimately bank accounts, from which they then transferred millions of dollars to themselves.

Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, described by prosecutors as leaders of "one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world", are accused in the 10-count indictment of deploying a malware system created to steal personal and financial information, including online bank information, from infected computers.

The FBI are seeking two Russian nationals in widespread malware attacks.

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The NCA started its investigation into the Dridex group back in 2014 and collected evidential material over several years that support the charges brought by the FBI.

"The group's leader, Maksim Yakubets, also provides direct assistance to the Russian government's malicious cyber efforts, highlighting the Russian government's enlistment of cybercriminals for its own malicious purposes", the department's statement said.

United Kingdom authorities say they have already arrested and convicted eight other members of the network for money laundering for Evil Corp.

Dridex distributor Andrey "Smilex" Ghinkul was also arrested in 2015. "Eight people have been sentenced to a total of over 40 years in prison", the NCA said.

Victims included a Franciscan Sisters religious order, a Pennsylvania district school board, an oil company and a gun manufacturer.

The United States has also rolled out sanctions against 17 other individuals and 7 Russian companies for their connection with the Evil Corp hacking group.

In a separate statement, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said the department issued sanctions against Evil Corp for the group's role in global cyber crime, including two other hackers associated with the group - Igor Turashev and Denis Gusev - as well as seven Russian companies with connections to Evil Corp. "This coordinated action is meant to disrupt the massive phishing campaigns orchestrated by this Russian-based hacker group", said Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury. Both are believed to now reside in Russian Federation, according to FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich.

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