US judge sentences duo for roles in running rock-solid hosting service

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A US judge has convicted two men from Eastern Europe for operating a bulletproof hosting service used by cybercriminals to deploy malware.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said Pavel Stassi and Aleksandr Skorodumov, from Estonia and Lithuania, have now been imprisoned for 24 months and 48 months, respectively.

The 30- and 33-year-old duo have been accused of providing online hosting services known as bulletproof, a popular option for cybercriminals who need a web host that will turn a blind eye to criminal activity.

Bulletproof hosting providers, often found on the Dark Web, may host malware, explicit abuse material, or e-commerce platforms offering illegal products such as criminal hacking tools. , drugs and weapons.

In this case, the bulletproof host was used to store malware payloads including Zeus, SpyEye, Citadel, and the Blackhole exploit kit.

The DoJ claims that between 2009 and 2015, Stassi and Skorodumov, along with co-defendants Aleksandr Grichishkin and Andrei Skvortsov from Russia, leased servers and domains from malicious actors.

The infrastructure has been used to host malware used in campaigns against financial institutions and other victims, resulting in the theft and attempted theft of “millions of dollars” in the United States alone. Additionally, the bulletproof host has also been used in the creation of botnets.

Skorodumov acted as the main system administrator who also provided technical support to customers. Stassi was involved in general administrative duties, marketing, and used stolen or false information to register web hosts and open financial accounts for the program.

Grichishkin and Skvortsov were founding members and day-to-day managers.

“The defendants have also helped their clients evade detection by law enforcement agencies and continue their crimes without interruption by monitoring sites used to block the technical infrastructure used for the crime, moving ‘tagged’ content. to a new infrastructure and registering all of that infrastructure under false or stolen identities, “says the DoJ.

The four suspects pleaded guilty to one count of corrupt organizations influenced by racketeers (RICO) conspiracy in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Grichishkin and Skvortsov are awaiting sentencing, although they could face much harsher sentences of up to 20 years in prison each.

“Over many years, the defendants have facilitated the transnational criminal activity of a vast network of cybercriminals around the world by providing them with a safe haven to anonymize their criminal activities,” commented Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters from the FBI office in Detroit. . “Cyber ​​criminals may believe they are beyond the reach of the FBI and our international partners, but today’s proceedings prove that anyone who facilitates or profits from cyber criminal activity will be brought to justice.”

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