Russian gets four-year sentence for banking malware

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A Russian national on Tuesday was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for his role in distributing and managing banking malware that infected over 11 million computers worldwide, authorities said.

Dimitry Belorossov, who was extradited to the United States from Spain in 2014, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

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Belorossov used spam emails and commercial Internet ads linking to malware to distribute and install a bot known as Citadel onto victims’ computers. At one point he controlled over 7,000 bots, authorities say.

Citadel, a kind of malware known as a “banking Trojan,” would steal online banking credentials, credit card information and personally identifiable information in order to carry out unauthorized transfers of funds.

The crime ring operating Citadel and other bots like it is thought to be responsible for over $500 million in losses.

“Citadel became one of the most advanced crimeware tools available in the underground market, as it had the capability, among other things, to block antivirus sites on infected computers,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.

Belorossov was an active contributor to the community using Citadel, posting suggested improvements to the malware on the criminal forum Citadelmovement.com.

The FBI is lauding the case as evidence that its efforts to prosecute international cyber criminals are bearing fruit.

“The FBI, in working with its international partners, continues to demonstrate that international boundaries no longer provide a safe haven for cybercriminals targeting U.S. individuals or interests domestically,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson.

In addition to his prison term, Belorossov has also been ordered to pay $322,000 in restitution.