An alleged Russian hacker has been arrested in Spain at the request of the American authorities.
Pyotr Levashov should have realised that going on holiday to a country that has extradition with America was a bad idea. He knew the Americans wanted him as he is responsible for the Kelihos botnet and has been on the top ten list of the world’s biggest spammers for years.
The Kelhios botnet is a huge array of computers setup to send out vast quantities of scam emails.
He was arrested on a U.S. computer crimes warrant and will be extradited.
Levashov’s arrest drew immediate attention after his wife told the Russian network RT that he was linked to America’s 2016 election hacking. She said when she spoke to her husband on the phone from the police station, he told her he was told he had created a computer virus that was linked to Trump’s election win. This may be a red herring designed to attract attention to his case.
According to the cybersecurity site KrebsOnSecurity, Levashov was allegedly responsible for “running multiple criminal operations that paid virus writers and spammers to install fake antivirus’ software. “There is a lot of evidence that he is the cybercriminal behind the Waledac spam botnet, which infected more than 70,000 computers and was capable of sending up to 1.5 billion spam messages a day.”
The U.S. authorities announced that they are working to dismantle a global computer network that sent hundreds of millions of spam emails worldwide each year. The U.S. Justice Department said it was working to take down the sprawling Kelihos botnet, which at times was made up of more than 100,000 compromised computers that sent phony emails advertising counterfeit drugs and work-at-home scams, harvested users’ logins and installed malware that captured their bank account passwords.
Controlling the vast network since 2010 was Pyotr Levashov, a 36-year-old described in U.S. court documents as “one of the world’s most notorious criminal spammers.”
The investigators’ efforts are showing early signs of success in disrupting the botnet.
It is a huge global problem combatting these operations that are well organised and well equipped and few governments can do much to stop them.
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