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Russian man gets 4 1/2 years in jail for committing computer fraud

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September 30, 2015

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A Russion cyber criminal by the name of Dimitry Belorossov who used the Citadel banking trojan to commit computer fraud has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in a U.S. jail. Belorossov pleady guilty to all charges.

The Russian citizen, who was known by criminal associates as Rainerfox, was alleged to have operated a Citadel command and control server.

Belorossov controlled wll over 7,043 victim computers, stated an initial court document, which declared his sentencing was scheduled for May 27 of this year.

The sentencing was then subsequently rescheduled for yesterday, when Judge Thomas Thrash sentenced him to 54 months in prison.

According to information provided through the Department of Justice's Victim Witness Assistance program, his "botnet contained personal information from the infected victim computers, including online banking credentials for U.S.-based financial institutions, credit card information, and other personally identifying information".

Although described as a "developer" in the headline of the U.S. Attorney's Office press release, Belorossov is not among the creators of the illegal Citadel trojan.

As noted later in the press release, Belorossov "provided online assistance with the goal of developing suggested improvements to Citadel, including posting comments on criminal forums on the internet and electronically communicating with other cyber-criminals via email and instant messaging".

An article by investigative journal Brian Krebs from 2012 noted that Citadel was directly marketed to the underworld as an alternative to malware created by "writers who decide that coding their next creation is more lucrative and interesting than supporting current clients".

Among Citadel's purported features was a support ticketing system, which allowed for features to be suggested, rather than allowing customers to become part of the development group.

Krebs noted that "the basic Citadel package" (which comprised a bot builder and botnet administration panel) retailed for US $2,399 with a $125 monthly rent and its "most innovative features" sold as software add-ons.

Incredibly, among those is a $395 software module that allows botmasters to sign up for a service which automatically updates the bot malware to evade the last antivirus signatures.

The software updates are deployed via a separate Jabber instant message bot, and each update costs an extra $15.

The U.S. Department of Justice considers Citadel, which is a ZeuS variant, to have infected over eleven million computers worldwide and to be responsible for more than $500 million in losses to date.

Source: The U.S. Department of Justice.

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