In the United States, a Russian cybercriminal was found guilty of running a malware-masking service that assisted hackers in infecting victim computers all over the world with malware, including ransomware.
Russian cybercriminal, Oleg Koshkin, 41, of Estonia, was found guilty by a federal jury in Connecticut of operating a crypting company through various websites, including “Crypt4U.com” and “fud.bz.”
On the website, Koshkin and his collaborators claimed to be able to make malicious software including botnets, remote-access trojans, keyloggers, credential stealers, and cryptocurrency miners invisible by practically all major antivirus programs.
According to court papers. Koshkin collaborated with Kelihos botnet operator Peter Yuryevich Levashov (aka Sergey Astakhov aka Petr Severa) to develop a method that allowed Levashov to encrypt Kelihos malware numerous times each day.
According to a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, Koshkin provided Levashov with a proprietary, high-volume crypting service, which allowed him to distribute Kelihos through many criminal affiliations.
The Kelihos botnet was used by Levashov to deliver spam, capture account passwords, launch denial-of-service attacks, and spread ransomware and other harmful software.
When the FBI shut down the Kelihos botnet in 2017 after Levashov’s arrest in Barcelona, it had at least 50,000 hacked machines around the world. In 2018, he was extradited to the United States and pleaded guilty.
Koshkin was caught in September 2019 in California and has been incarcerated since then. He is due to be sentenced on September 20 and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.
Koshkin’s co-defendant Pavel Tsurkan is accused of assisting and abetting Levashov in causing damage to ten or more protected systems, as well as conspiring to cause harm to ten or more protected computers.
The verdict should serve as a warning to anyone who supply infrastructure to cyber-criminals, according to Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
He went on to say that the Criminal Division and its law enforcement partners regard them as just as guilty as the hackers who allow the crimes they assist, and that they will work tirelessly to bring them to justice.