The run is finally over and the three people responsible for the Gozi virus have been charged in a U.S. court. The virus is known to have infected more than one million computers and allowed the cybercriminals to steal millions of dollars from online accounts over a five-year period. The virus is known to have infected over 40,000 computers in the U.S. including 160 at NASA.
Nikita Kuzmin, 25, from Russia pleaded guilty to computer intrusion and fraud charges back in May 2011, while the other two defendants, Mihai Lonut Paunescu, 28, of Romania and Deniss Calovskis, 27, of Latvia face a variety of other charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Kuzmin began working on the Gozi virus back in 2005, while Paunescu allegedly provided secure hosting to the creators. Calovskis was responsible for developing the Web injects code for Gozi and Zeus, another Trojan. The Web injects spoofed banking websites on infected computers allowing the criminals to steal bank account information.
The virus was distributed in spam e-mails as a harmless-looking pdf file. Once it was opened, it secretly installed the virus allowing the criminals to collect personal data such as usernames, passwords and other security information.
In 2006, Kuzmin began selling the code to other hackers for $50,000 and a cut of the illegal profits on underground Internet forums. Stolen data was sent back to a server that Kuzmin controlled. In 2009 and 2010, Kuzmin is said to have sold the virus source code to several co-conspirators with the intention of attacking U.S. computers.
Kuzmin was arrested in the United States in 2010. Calovskis was arrested in 2011, while Paunescu was arrested in Romania in November, 2012. If convicted, Kuzmin, faces up to 95 years in prison. Paunescu awaits extradition and faces up to 60 years in prison if found guilty. Calovskis faces up to 67 years in prison.
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