The U.S. financial services industry has issued a warning that a Russian cyber-gangster is preparing to rob American banks and their customers of millions of dollars.
In addition, the computer security firm McAfee has reported that the cyber-criminal, who calls himself “Thief-in-Law,” already has infected the hundreds of computers of unwitting American customers in preparation to steal their bank account data.
The warning was issued Thursday by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), which shares information throughout the financial sector about terrorist and online threats, said Douglas Johnson, vice president for risk management at the American Bankers Association.
“FS-ISAC has sent out several notices warning about this gentleman,” Mr. Johnson told The Washington Times.
According to McAfee, Thief-in-Law has installed malicious software programs, known as “malware,” on hundreds of computers as part of his plan, dubbed “Project Blitzkrieg.” The malware steals passwords and login information, which hackers can use to drain victims’ bank accounts online.
“McAfee Labs believes that Project Blitzkrieg is a credible threat to the financial industry and appears to be moving forward as planned,” a company report states.
The report’s author, Ryan Sherstobitoff, told The Times that a “pilot program” that apparently ended in October had infected as many as 500 computers in the U.S. About 120 additional computers were infected in a follow-up campaign that ended in November, he said.
“Project Blitzkrieg is an active operation,” Mr. Sherstobitoff said.
The Times reported in October that Thief-in-Law was trying to recruit an army of hackers to rob U.S. bank accounts next year and had posted a video of himself boasting about his online criminal activities and his immunity from law enforcement.
“If you accurately target [bank] customers in the USA while being in Russia, then you can fear nothing while living in your country,” said the gangster, who uses the online alias “vorVzakone.”
His nickname is Russian slang that translates to “Thief-in-Law” but also implies untouchability, such as a “made man” or “Mafia don.”
Out of sight
In a Sept. 9 posting on an online cybercrime forum, Thief-in-Law said he already had stolen $5 million from American banks by using his malware, called “Gozi Prinimalka.”
“It was under the radar,” he said. “It wasn’t traded or swapped in online forums, so there was little awareness of it.”View Entire Story
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Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...
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