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Friday, April 22, 2016
Notorious International Computer Hackers Sentenced
The FBI released the below report:
Two international computer hackers from Russia and Algeria were sentenced to lengthy prison terms yesterday for their roles in developing and distributing a prolific piece of malware known as SpyEye. The malicious code caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to the financial industry around the world.
Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, 27, from Russia, was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison, and Hamza Bendelladj, 27, from Algeria, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in federal court in Atlanta, Georgia.
SpyEye is a sophisticated code designed to secretly automate the theft of confidential personal and financial information such as online banking credentials, credit card information, usernames, passwords, and other personally identifying information. Between 2009 and 2011, SpyEye was the preeminent malware for cyber criminals and was used to infect more than 10 million computers that caused close to $1 billion in financial harm to individuals and institutions.
Panin was the primary developer and distributor of SpyEye. He conspired with others, including co-defendant Hamza Bendelladj, to market various versions of SpyEye through the Internet. Prior to his arrest, Panin was planning to release a second version of SpyEye that could have been one of the most undetectable pieces of malware ever distributed.
Panin was arrested by U.S. authorities in 2013 when he flew through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In 2014, he pled guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. Bendelladj was apprehended in Thailand in 2013 and extradited to the U.S.
“Through these arrests and sentencing, the risk the public unknowingly faced from the threat posed by the imminent release of a new, highly sophisticated version of SpyEye was effectively reduced to zero,” said J. Britt Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office. He added, “The arrests and sentences serve as a strong deterrent to future malware developers and their customers, regardless of where they are located.”
Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, street crime, sex crime, cyber crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. He is a contributing editor to The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International and a regular contributor to the Washington Times. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. He also served two years on the Navy harbor tugboat USS Saugus at the U.S. nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. He went on to do security work as a Defense Department civilian employee and then became a freelance writer. You can read Paul Davis' Crime Beat columns, crime fiction and magazine and newspaper pieces on this website. You can also read his full bio by clicking on the above photo.