News of police in Barcelona arresting the notorious Russian cyber criminal, Pyotr Levashov, has put hackers in his home country on edge.
In response to the surprise arrest, first reported on Sunday, other hackers are warning each other not to step foot in any country that has an extradition treaty with the United States.
“The biggest chatter is do not travel. If you were involved in cyber crime, do not travel. Don’t go to Europe, don’t go to America,” said Andrei Barysevich, a director at cybersecurity company Recorded Future, who monitors hacker activity in Russian-speaking chat forums.
The arrest of Levashov in a Barcelona apartment, captured on video by a news outlet, came shortly before the Justice Department announced it had disabled a global network of tens of thousands of infected computers under his control.
Levashov allegedly used the computer network, known as a botnet, to send millions of spam messages promoting scams or seeking to infect the targets with malware. In some cases, he would rent the botnet to other criminals for as low as $300 for one million spam messages, according to security researcher Brian Krebs.
Levashov has been running such operations for years, and is on a top 10 list of the world’s worst spammers, and so his sudden arrest jolted the hacker community.