By Marcel Evans
The United States is offering a $3million reward for information on a Russian hacker charged with bank conspiracy and fraud. Russian citizen Evgeniy Bogachev is charged with running computer attacks that diverted more than one hundred million dollars. He was indicted in Pittsburgh last year on serious charges of bank fraud and conspiracy. The FBI has released pictures of Evgeniy Bogachev; he is charged in US with running a computer attack network called Game over Zeus which stole more than $100 million from online bank accounts. Unconfirmed reports about whereabouts of Evgeniy Bogachev had surfaced earlier.
Major Threat to Security
The chief of the FBI’s cyber crime division mentioned that they have information about sixty different cyber threat groups. The Russian internal security agency has expressed interest on working with American investigation cell on cyber crime detection. The U.S. finds it difficult to arrest overseas hackers located in countries like Russia, with whom they don’t have clear extradition treaties. The Russian hacker faces conspiracy charges in Omaha for his involvement in Zeus malware known as Jabber Zeus. FBI officials firmly believe that Bogachev is still in his home country. The FBI has not revealed details about the countries from where this hacking crew operates from.
The U.S. has not dealt with cyber crime of such magnitude in recent times. It is believed that Bogachev grabbed sensitive information from victims including bank account numbers, passwords and PINs. FBI investigations indicate that the ‘Game over Zeus’ computer virus is responsible for one million computer infections. The infamous Bogachev is known among investigation officers under the online handles, ‘lucky 12345’ and “slavik”. Other charges of wire fraud, money laundering and computer fraud exist against Bogachev in many US courts.
This $3 million reward is the highest reward ever offered in connection with cyber crime. Bogachev carried out the modus operandi of trapping individuals by collecting their financial information through malicious software (malware). By proclaiming Bogachev as the most wanted cyber criminal, US State Department says, “This reward offer reaffirms the commitment of the US Government to bring those who participate in organized crime to justice, whether they hide online or just overseas”. Bogacheve’s malicious software either logged user’s keystrokes for passwords and bank pins where unsuspected victims entered their bank account information. 30 year old Russian hacker is a leader of cyber criminal group who had developed ‘Game over Zeus Botnet’.
It is also suspected that the same hacker is the master brain behind Crypto Locker Ransom ware. “Although we were able to significantly disrupt the game ZeUS and Crypto locker, we have not yet brought Bogachev himself to justice”, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement. A FBI official described Evgeniy Bogachev as “one of the world’s worst” and “brilliant at what he does”. According to the FBI, “We are turning to the world again for assistance in locating Bogachev. With this $3 million reward incentive, someone, somewhere may see him, and let the authorities know about his whereabouts. In appearance Bogachev is 5 meter, 9 inches tall, with brown eyes and brown hair. Last time he was seen in the Russian sea side resort of Anapa. He is believed to be still in Russia, although he may travel”.
It is estimated that between $100 billion and $400 billion is lost every year due to cyber attacks. Earlier variants of Zeus had infected more than 13 million computers worldwide. In 2014, FBI had described Botnet as an extremely sophisticated type of malware designed to steal banking and other credentials from the computer it infects. This virus is mostly spread through spam email or phishing messages. Bogachev infamously hit the headlines as an advanced and prolific computer hacker. Issuing a reward has worked once before in helping Federal Bureau of Investigation catch a wanted hacker. USA is planning campaigns to catch hackers in the upcoming months.