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Moscow offices raided, cybercrime ring busted

REUTERS
Published : Feb 8, 2016, 10:52 pm IST
Updated : Feb 8, 2016, 10:52 pm IST

Russian authorities in November raided offices associated with a Moscow film distribution and production company as part of a crackdown on one of the world’s most notorious financial hacking operation

Russian authorities in November raided offices associated with a Moscow film distribution and production company as part of a crackdown on one of the world’s most notorious financial hacking operations, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter.

Cybersecurity experts said a password-stealing software program known as Dyre — believed to be responsible for at least tens of millions of dollars in losses at financial institutions including Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co — has not been deployed since the time of the raid. Experts familiar with the situation said the case represents Russia’s biggest effort to date to crack down on cyber-crime.

A spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry’s cybercrime unit said his department was not involved in the case. The FSB, Russia’s main intelligence service, said it had no immediate comment.

Nikolay Volchkov, the chief executive of the film company named 25th Floor, said he could not answer questions about the raid. Without an official confirmation, much remains a mystery. Reuters could not determine a direct link between the programme’s shutdown and the raid. The sources said that a number of people were questioned by the authorities but Reuters was unable to ascertain further details, including whether there were arrests or criminal charges. Reuters has no evidence that Volchkov or the film company is implicated in any wrongdoing and couldn’t determine precisely who is.

Hackers targeting Western financial institutions and individuals are rarely punished in Russia.

Consequently, the November raid is seen as potentially a landmark event by Western cyber-crime watchers.

The Dyre hackers used a range of tricks to insert sophisticated computer code into consumer Web browsers to manipulate communications between those customers and more than 400 financial institutions, according to analysts at Dell SecureWorks.

IBM said it was the most pervasive financial theft software hitting its customers last year. But then Dyre stopped spreading, banking and security experts said.

“We have seen a disruption over the last few months that is definitely consistent with successful law enforcement action,” said cybercrime expert John Miller of US.