Five Arrested In Massive Hacking Bust
July 26, 2013

Five Arrested In Massive Hacking Bust

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

This week, four Russian nationals and a Ukrainian national have been arrested and charged with running an alleged hacking organization. This sophisticated operation reportedly penetrated the networks of more than a dozen major American and international corporations over a seven-year period.

In that time, the group is believed to have stolen and sold at least 160 million credit and debit card numbers, which resulted in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Indictments were announced Thursday in Newark, where US Attorney Paul Fishman described this as the largest hacking and data breach operation ever prosecuted by the United States.

"The individuals charged and arrested in this case are the ones at the top, the ones who steal the data that they sell to the folks who cash out," Fishman said in a statement. "By arresting two of the key players and identifying three of the others, we believe we have taken a major step toward dismantling this organization."

The AP reported that the defendants were identified as Vladimir Drinkman, 32, of Syktyvkar, Russia, and Moscow; Aleksander Kalinin, 26, of St. Petersburg, Russia; Roman Kotov, 32, of Moscow; Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, of Moscow; and Mikhail Rytikov, 26, of Odessa, Ukraine.

According to the indictment, the five men attacked major corporations that included NASDAQ, 7-Eleven, Carrefour, JCP, Hannaford, Heartland, Wet Seal, Commidea, Dexia, JetBlue, Dow Jones, Euronet, Visa Jordan, Global Payment, Diners Singapore and Ingenicard.

The group allegedly recovered usernames, passwords and other personal identification information as well as credit card numbers. This attack was apparently conducted by use of an SQL (Structured Query Language) injection attack. These attacks are common due to the prevalence of SQL injection vulnerabilities. Databases also make attractive targets, as they contain critical application information. Moreover, this type of hack is not new and is well documented throughout the Internet, which means that it can be used by those with limited computer programming knowledge and experience.

This group allegedly installed "sniffers" within the various networks to automatically obtain electronic data from tens of thousands of credit cards.

After acquiring the hacked data, it is believed that the defendants sold the information around the world.

In text messages to one another, the group would "say this network is 'owned,'" Fishman said.

The Verge noted that this case could be tied to a 2009 indictment that sent a Miami resident, Albert Gonzalez, to prison for 20 years. He reportedly used the screen name "soupnazi" and was identified in the new complaint as an unindicted co-conspirator. Other unindicted co-conspirators were also named.

All five of the men named in this new indictment were charged with taking part in a computer hacking conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the Associated Press reported. The four Russian nationals were further charged with multiple counts of unauthorized computer access and wire fraud.

The charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud carry 30-year jail terms.

Fishman reportedly declined to say whether the investigation would be or even has been expanded to include those people actually selling the fake cards. He noted that such crimes are already routinely investigated and prosecuted, even when those crimes cannot be tied to a particular "hack."