Microsoft names Zeus ringleaders and notifies FBI
Microsoft has named two individuals who it says are the leaders behind the Zeus botnet and has passed on its dossier on them to the FBI.
Redmond fingered Yevhen Kulibaba and Yuriy Konovalenko as the two key players behind the botnet in an amended criminal complaint and told the FBI that the two were key to both the botnet itself, and to finding other individuals who were responsible for spreading an operating the malware and laundering the funds it was used to steal.
The FBI isn’t going to have to look far for the duo however, as they are serving four years sentences in British prisons for Zeus-related charges. After they have finished their terms at Her Majesty’s pleasure then the US can join the queue of countries looking to extradite the pair.
The two men, both Ukrainian, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud and received four year and eight months sentences. They, and 11 other co-conspirators, were arrested after an investigation by the UK’s Central E-Crime Unit (PCeU).
“We will continue our efforts to serve defendants Kulibaba and Konovalenko, and the John Doe defendants, with this amended complaint,” said Richard Boscovich, senior attorney Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit in a blog post.
“Meanwhile, the botnets’ command and control domains remain disabled. It is Microsoft’s goal to ensure that these domains ultimately remain disabled, and we hope the evidence collected from these domains leads to a criminal investigation.”
Boscovich said that the takedown of the botnet had been a major success and the number of infected PCs found in the wild has fallen from 779,816 in March to 336,393 for the last week in June. Spam messages purporting to come from the Electronic Payments Association that were used by the malware operators have also dropped around 90 per cent. ®