Latvian Malware maker pleads guilty for stealing millions from online bank accounts

Latvian hacker, Deniss Calovskis, pleaded guilty in US court for co-writing the Gozi virus. The said virus enabled criminals to steal millions of dollars from online bank accounts by causing massive worldwide computer infection. He admitted to committing the computer intrusion at a hearing in New York.

Calovskis, using a Russian-speaking interpreter, told a U.S. magistrate judge in Manhattan Friday that he “wrote a little part” of the Gozi virus code, accounted Bloomberg. As such, he is likely to be sentenced for two years upon his return later this year. According to Reuters , the admission was made by the 30-year old hacker in court on Friday.

“I knew what I was doing was against the law,” Calovskis said in court, as quoted by Reuters.

U.S. prosecutors have dubbed the Gozi virus as one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history. Calovski developed the virus to perform web injection techniques. Then, infected computers, when visiting a banking website would find that the website itself could be compromised and tweaked, through the web injection, to ask for more transaction actions.

The web injections make it impossible for the users to know whether they are on the true bank’s website or on the hacker’s, Ars Technica reported. The website then asks for the user’s private bank details including social security numbers, driver’s license information, a mother’s name, and password.

Gozi, the powerful virus, was discovered in 2007. The U.S. announced its charges in 2013 following numerous incidents of infections. It is estimated to have hit more than one million computers worldwide including 40,000 computers of the U.S. and 160 at National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Virus mastermind Nikita Kuzmin and Romanian alleged distributor Mihai Ionut were similarly charged by the U.S. prosecutors in January 2013. In that same year, Calovski wholly denied playing a part in the creation of the intrusive virus.

The plea followed after Calovskis was extradited in February from Latvia, where he was arrested in November 2012 and held for 10 months in jail. His lawyer, David Bertan, told Reuters that it is an “open question” whether Calovskis would receive credit for his time in custody in Latvia. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14. The case is U.S. v. Calovskis, 12-CR-487, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


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