Feds Free Thousands of Computers From Hackers

Officials say they have disabled two of the world’s worst computer viruses.

National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brendan Sasso
June 2, 2014, 9:32 a.m.

The United States and oth­er gov­ern­ments have cracked down on the group be­hind two of the world’s worst com­puter vir­uses, of­fi­cials an­nounced Monday.

Both schemes — the “Gameover Zeus Bot­net” and the “Crypto­lock­er” vir­us — in­fec­ted hun­dreds of thou­sands of com­puters and stole mil­lions of dol­lars from vic­tims around the world, the of­fi­cials said.

U.S. and for­eign law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials said they seized serv­ers and dis­abled both vir­uses, and the Justice De­part­ment filed charges against Ev­gen­iy Mikhail­ovich Bogachev, a Rus­si­an na­tion­al whom the U.S. al­leges is the lead­er of a group be­hind both schemes.

“Ev­gen­iy Bogachev and the mem­bers of his crim­in­al net­work de­vised and im­ple­men­ted the kind of cy­ber­crimes that you might not be­lieve if you saw them in a sci­ence-fic­tion movie,” Leslie Cald­well, the head of the Justice De­part­ment’s Crim­in­al Di­vi­sion, said.

Gameover Zeus si­lently spied on and even con­trolled in­fec­ted com­puters, the of­fi­cials said. The vir­us in­ter­cep­ted bank ac­count num­bers and pass­words, al­low­ing the hack­ers to empty their vic­tims’ bank ac­counts, ac­cord­ing to the charges.

Gameover Zeus con­trolled a net­work of between 500,000 and 1 mil­lion com­puters around the world, se­cur­ity re­search­ers es­tim­ate.

The Justice De­part­ment ob­tained court or­ders to block the vic­tims’ com­puters from com­mu­nic­at­ing with the hack­ers’ serv­ers, and set up sub­sti­tute serv­ers in­stead. More than 300,000 vic­tim com­puters have been freed from the hack­ers, and that num­ber is ex­pec­ted to in­crease in the com­ing days, the Justice De­part­ment said.

While Gameover Zeus worked quietly to steal fin­an­cial in­form­a­tion, the Crypto­lock­er wasn’t so subtle. The Justice De­part­ment says that the hack­ers seized con­trol of com­puters and de­man­ded that the vic­tims pay hun­dreds of dol­lars to un­lock their files.

“The crim­in­als ef­fect­ively held for ransom every private email, busi­ness plan, child’s sci­ence pro­ject, or fam­ily pho­to­graph — every single im­port­ant and per­son­al file stored on the vic­tim’s com­puter,” Cald­well said. “In or­der to get their data back, com­puter own­ers had to hand over their cash. As with Gameover Zeus, once you learned you were in­fec­ted with the Crypto­lock­er mal­ware, it was too late.”

U.S. of­fi­cials said they seized com­puter serv­ers cent­ral to the Crypto­lock­er scheme. The vir­us in­fec­ted more than 234,000 com­puters, half of them in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to se­cur­ity re­search­ers.

What We're Following See More »
LOFTY GOALS
White House Proposes New Tax Plan
14 hours ago
BREAKING

The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.

Source:
EMERGING BUDGET FRAMEWORK?
Dems Proposes Obamacare-for-Defense Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."

Source:
WHITE HOUSE BLOCKING DOC REQUEST
Michael Flynn Remains A Russian-Sized Problem
1 days ago
BREAKING

The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.

Source:
SENATE JUDICIARY HEARING
Sally Yates to Testify on May 8
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MESSAGE TO PUTIN
U.S. To Conduct Exercises In Estonia
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The U.S. deployed "F-35 joint strike fighters" to Estonia on Tuesday. The "jets will stay in Estonia for several weeks and will be a part of training flights with U.S. and other NATO air forces." The move comes at a time of high tension between the U.S. and Estonia's neighbor, Russia. The two nations have been at odds over a number of issues recently, most of all being Vladimir Putin's support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in light of Assad's chemical weapons attack on his own people in the midst of a civil war.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login