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Chinese man arrested over cybercrime botnet | #cybercrime | #infosec

An international law enforcement team has arrested a Chinese national and disrupted a major botnet that officials said he ran for nearly a decade, amassing at least US$99 million in profits by reselling access to criminals who used it for identity theft, child exploitation and financial fraud, including COVID-19 pandemic relief scams.

The US Department of Justice quoted FBI Director Christopher Wray as saying on Wednesday that the “911 S5” botnet — a network of malware-infected computers in nearly 200 countries — was likely the world’s largest.

Wang Yunhe, 35, was arrested in Singapore on Friday last week, the department said.

Photo: AP

Search warrants were executed in Singapore and Thailand, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Cyberoperations Brett Leatherman said in a LinkedIn post.

Authorities also seized US$29 million in cryptocurrency, Leatherman said.

Cybercriminals used Wang’s network of zombie residential computers to steal “billions of dollars from financial institutions, credit card issuers and accountholders, and [US] federal lending programs since 2014,” an indictment filed in the Eastern District of Texas showed.

Wang sold access to the 19 million Windows computers he hijacked — more than 613,000 in the US — to criminals who “used that access to commit a staggering array of crimes that victimized children, threatened people’s safety and defrauded financial institutions and federal lending programs,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in announcing the takedown.

Criminals who purchased access to the zombie network from Wang were responsible for more than US$5.9 billion in estimated losses due to fraud against relief programs, Garland said.

Officials estimated that 560,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims originated from compromised IP addresses.

Wang allegedly managed the botnet through 150 dedicated servers, half of them leased from US-based online service providers.

The indictment says that Wang used his illicit gains to purchase 21 properties in the US, China, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and St Kitts and Nevis, where it said he obtained citizenship through investment.

In its news release, the department thanked police and other authorities in Singapore and Thailand for their assistance.

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