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Trickbot Developer Behind $833M Crypto Theft Gets Prison Term | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


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Trickbot
Source: Pixabay/Pete Linforth

A 40-year-old Russian developer of Trickbot ransomware has been sentenced to a five-year prison term, according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

In a press release dated January 25, the DoJ identified the individual as Vladimir Dunaev from Amur Oblast, Russia. Court documents cited by the Justice Department reveal that Dunaev provided specialized services and technical expertise in the development of the Trickbot ransomware.

The malicious software was then used to target hospitals, schools, and millions of businesses’ computer networks, resulting in substantial financial losses. The DoJ stated that Dunaev, along with 10 other co-conspirators, caused tens of millions of dollars in losses to these victims.

Providing an instance, the US DoJ revealed that 10 victims in the Northern District of Ohio, including Avon Schools and a North Canton real estate firm, lost more than $3.4 million to the ransomware deployed by Trickbot.

Trickbot, which was eventually taken down in 2022, operated as a suite of malware tools focused on secretly pilfering money from their target victims and installing malware that cannot be detected by anti-virus software scanners. Its anonymity facilitated continuous breaches of infected computers.

According to a Chainalysis report in September 2023, Trickbot facilitated the deployment of several ransomware strains, including Ryuk, Conti, Diavol, and Karakurt. Using these tools, the Trickbot crew, as they were known, managed to pilfer $833 million worth of cryptocurrency assets during their operation.

Dunaev is one of the team members facing a jail term. According to the DoJ, he will serve a five-year and four-month prison term after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and identity theft, as well as conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

The Russian national was initially arrested in 2021 in the Republic of Korea and then extradited to the US to face criminal charges.

Meanwhile, Dunaev’s co-conspirator, Alla Witte – a Latvian national – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.

Dunaev’s Co-conspirators Make OFAC’s Sanction List


While other team members are currently at large, the US DoJ remains steadfast in its efforts to dismantle the notorious Trickbot cybercriminal syndicate.

In a September 2023 press release, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 11 key members of the team. The case was done in collaboration with the UK government.

Crypto theft has become a major bug in the burgeoning crypto ecosystem. In 2023, a combined total of $1.7 billion in crypto losses was reported, according to a Chainalysis report. Out of this total, cyber threat groups such as the North Korea-backed Lazarus Group claimed approximately $1 billion.

While this figure looks outlandish, Chainalysis noted that the $1.7 billion loss is 54.3% lower than the $3.7 billion in crypto losses recorded in 2022.

The report attributed this decline to enhanced security measures, which have made it more challenging for crypto hackers to achieve successful paydays.



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