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U.S. Sentences Russian For Malware ‘Crypting’ Products and services

Russian national Oleg Koshkin has been sentenced to four years in prison for operating a “crypting” service that helped hackers infect computers around the world with malware, the U.S. Justice Department announced on December 9.

Koshkin, 41 and formerly of Estonia, reportedly operated websites that offered to make intrusive software like botnets, remote-access trojans, keyloggers, credential stealers, and cryptocurrency miners virtually undetectable.

“The defendant provided a critical service used by cybercriminals to evade one of the first lines of cybersecurity defense, antivirus software,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Cybercriminals depend on services like these to infect computers around the world with malware, including ransomware. The Criminal Division and our law enforcement partners are committed to investigating and prosecuting anyone who criminally operates these services to the fullest extent of the law.’

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Koshkin was convicted by a federal jury on June 15 of one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and abuse and one count of computer fraud and abuse.

Koshkin provided services to Russian national Pyotr Levashov, the operator of the Kelihos botnet that compromised more than 50,000 computers before it was dismantled by the FBI.

Levashov is one of the world’s most notorious spammers, and also used Kelihos to harvest account credentials, conduct denial-of-service attacks, and distribute ransomware and other malicious software.

A botnet is a network of devices infected with malicious software that allows a third party to control an entire computer network without the knowledge or consent of the computer owners.

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Levashov pleaded guilty to multiple counts in a U.S. court in 2018 after his extradition from Spain.

Koshkin was arrested in California in 2019.

A co-defendant, Pavel Tsurkan, pleaded guilty on June 16 to one count of causing damage to a protected computer, an offense that carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison. He is awaiting sentencing.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036