The ‘Russian Hacker’ has garnered a lot of attention lately, especially related to the most recent election. Politics aside, there is a great article on WIRED detailing the fight against one of the most notorious Russian hackers, how their inner circle of hackers came to be and their involvement in one of the most prolific and effective malware systems known to date.
Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker reads like a spy novel – because in many ways it is.
It details an FBI agents efforts to hunt down and disable the most effective cyber crime rings of our time and highlights the battle between authorities and researchers against a seasoned and experience gang of hackers who used their skills to bilk businesses out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
As the story unfolds, you get a glimpse into how CryptoLocker came into being and the impact this piece of malware has had on users – Dell SecureWorks estimated in December of 2013 that some 250,000 machines had been infected with CryptoLocker, netting the hackers a little over $1,000,000 in ransom payments.
This amount pales by comparison to the the $70 – $80 million in thefts attributed to the group, a figure that investigators suggest was far from the total.
The story also describes how CryptoLocker, while well known for locking files and extracting ransoms, was also an information gathering tool – remaining undetected and gathering intelligence on foreign governments.
This type of activity continues to be on the rise and remaining vigilant is the key to avoiding being a victim. See What your staff needs to know about Phishing for tips on keeping your business safe.