SpyEye Masterminds Begin 24 Year Jail Term

SpyEye Masterminds Begin 24 Year Jail Term

US law enforcers are patting themselves on the back this week after the sentencing of the two men behind the notorious SpyEye banking malware, for a total of 24.5 years.

Russian Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, aka ‘Gribodemon,’ was handed down nine and a half years for his part as the primary developer and distributor of the malware, which caused losses of nearly $1 billion and infected over 50 million computers across the globe between 2010-2012, the DoJ said.

Algerian Hamza Bendelladj, aka ‘BX1,’ was given 15 years for sending over a million malware-laden spam emails, as well as selling malicious plug-ins for botnets, causing millions in losses to individuals and financial institutions, and running a carding forum: VCC.sc.

Panin was arrested on 1 July 2013, when he flew through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport, while Bendelladj was cuffed in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on 5 January 2013 and subsequently deported.

Law enforcers are particularly pleased because they say Panin was just months away from releasing a new strain of SpyEye which could have caused “immeasurable losses” to the banking industry.

“It is difficult to over state the significance of this case, not only in terms of bringing two prolific computer hackers to justice, but also in disrupting and preventing immeasurable financial losses to individuals and the financial industry around the world,” said Georgia DA, John Horn, in a statement.

“The outstanding work by our law enforcement partners, both domestically and internationally, as well as terrific cooperation from the private sector, serves as a blueprint on how to combat complex cyber-crime syndicates around the world.”

Trend Micro was one of those private sector partners, providing vital information such as the online “handles” and accounts used by the duo, it revealed in a blog post.

As for law enforcement partners, the FBI were helped by the UK’s National Crime Agency, which arrested a British hacker, James Bayliss, in 2014 for his part in helping to code the ccgrabber plugin for SpyEye, according to Trend Micro.

“Taking down infrastructures and servers is but a short-term solution to the problem of cybercrime; to truly address cybercrime, the perpetrators themselves must be stopped,” the firm wrote.

It should be noted that other co-conspirators of the duo are likely still at large, as is the FBI’s most wanted cybercriminal – Evginy Bogachev, aka ‘Slavik’ – who originally passed the source code and rights for Zeus to Pavin.

Source: Information Security Magazine