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FBI bests Spyeye banking botnet coder

Aleksandr Andreevich Panin pleads guilty
Wed Jan 29 2014, 15:56
Hacker's hands on keyboard

THE UNITED STATES Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is pleased that Russian national Aleksandr Andreevich Panin pleaded guilty for his role in the Spyeye botnet banking trojan attacks.

The FBI announced the guilty plea in a statement on its website, adding that it was glad to have pulled the plug on the cyber criminal.

The Spyeye botnet was big business, according to the FBI, as it had a lot of compromised machines at its disposal, reportedly over a million, and a rather long list of paying clients.

The guilty plea and sentence should serve as a warning to anyone else thinking of pursuing a similar career.

"The next person you peddle your malware to could be an FBI undercover employee," said FBI executive assistant director Rick McFeely. "Regardless of where you live, we will use all the tools in our toolbox - including undercover operations and extraditions - to hold cyber criminals accountable for profiting illicitly from US computer users."

The US department of Justice had international cooperation to thank for the hacker's arrest, and said that US citizens have enough to worry about without malware attacks, botnets and data breaches.

"Given the recent revelations of massive thefts of financial information from large retail stores across the country, Americans do not need to be reminded how devastating it is when cyber criminals surreptitiously install malicious codes on computer networks and then siphon away private information from unsuspecting consumers," said US acting assistant attorney general Mythili Raman.

"Today, thanks to the tireless work of prosecutors and law enforcement agents, Aleksandr Panin has admitted to his orchestration of this criminal scheme to use 'Spyeye' to invade the privacy of Americans by infecting their computers through a dangerous botnet. As this prosecution shows, cyber criminals - even when they sit on the other side of the world and attempt to hide behind online aliases - are never outside the reach of US law enforcement."

Panin was the primary developer and distributor of the Spyeye virus, which operated for around two years. One of his clients is thought to have made over $3.2m in a six month period by using the virus.

Sentencing for Panin is scheduled for 29 April 2014. µ


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