- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Search giant Google said it had disrupted a criminal hacker network that infiltrated more than 1 million machines worldwide and was suing the alleged Russian cyber executives behind the operation in U.S. federal court.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and in posts on the company’s blog, Google said it took down servers used by Glupteba, a “botnet” targeting computing devices that use the Windows operating system, and accused the network of theft and fraud. A botnet refers to a network of devices infected with malicious software used in cyberattacks.   

Google said Glupteba is known for stealing users’ credentials and data, and the lawsuit accuses Glupteba of conducting a credit card fraud scheme and selling unauthorized access to victims’ devices. Google‘s lawsuit, unsealed Tuesday, names Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov as the operators of the botnet. 

Google is alleging violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Lanham Act, and tortious interference of business relationships and unjust enrichment,” said Google‘s Threat Analysis Group in a blog post Tuesday. “While these actions may not completely stop Glupteba, TAG estimates that combined efforts will materially affect the actor’s ability to conduct future operations.”

Google‘s Threat Analysis Group said it observed Glupteba targeting victims worldwide — particularly in the U.S., India, Brazil and Southeast Asia — and Google said it spotted thousands of downloads of malicious software daily. 

Google said it has terminated 63 million Google Docs distributed by Glupteba, 1,183 Google accounts, 908 Cloud Projects and 870 Google Ads accounts. 

Tech companies are increasingly making their actions against alleged cybercriminals public. Earlier this week, Microsoft said it seized websites used by China-based hackers targeting the U.S. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Tom Burt said the company used 24 lawsuits to take down 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 used by state-sponsored hackers.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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