Hackers from Russia cracked systems of known computer firms
By Vladimir Golubev
Date: May 20, 2003
The nightmare for John Morgenstern began from the e-mail on July, 15, 2000. "Your safety is broken. We want to help you ", - he has read.
John Morgenstern, president of E-money, has understood what the matter is. It was threat, blackmail.
Next day somebody has called to him. The calling young man was presented as "Alex". He was from Russia and represented organization "Experts on Protection against Hackers". He has access to database of E-money, including information on credit cards, and will be glad to help Morgenstern to secure his system against the further intrusions. Morgenstern should pay to him 500 thousand dollars. As the proof Alex has advised director to go in a system file one of servers. "Here was Alex", - digital inscription said.
Morgenstern did not want to pay, but he worried about hearings on cracked system E-money, so he could lose clients. He has invited the expert on computer security, and at the same time negotiated with hackers - blackmailers. As Morgenstern refused to pay, hackers attacked the company again.
Then Morgenstern has called to FBI. All further conversations Morgenstern with Alex and his friend Victor were recorded.
Alex has just left school and could not find job.
Once, conversation has considerably changed. Victor said Morgenstern: «Forget about money. I ask simply assistance in reception of the visa and in search of job in the USA.
"John, I'll repair your system, and nobody will attack you any more. Please, help me to find a job in America ", - Victor said.
Morgenstern tried to get promise from FBI to not touch Russian hackers if they arrive in the USA and find fair job.
Hacker's attacks have stopped, and Morgenstern has never heard about them any more.
Meanwhile "Experts" became serious threat for the American financial networks - Western Union, PayPal and domestic banks.
One of "Experts" was so self-confident, that even sent the resume with a photo to those companies he was going to attack. His name was Alexey Ivanov.
FBI could not catch hackers in Russia^; it couldn't demand their ex-tradition as Russia and the USA have not corresponding agreements.
So FBI has sent the e-mail to Ivanov. It said that company Invita Technologies (invented) invites him for a job as adviser on computer security. Ivanov has come to delight.
He asked to take with himself the "business partner". Having received consent (for the greater plausibility, the flight was paid for Ivanov only, his friend Vasily Gorshkov should fly at his own expense), in November, 2000 hackers have arrived to America. Representatives of "company" have met them at the airport and delivered to office, where they asked Russians to show their skills. All events were filmed.
Then hackers set in the car and were going to get to apartment. But very soon the door of car has swung open: "FBI - leave the car, hands for a back ".
After some hours Ivanov and Gorshkov were in prison. FBI has downloaded from their computers 27 megabytes: hacker's programs, letters with money extortion, numbers of credit cards.
Gorshkov was sentenced for three years of imprisonment. Also he should pay 700 thousand dollars in compensation of the caused damage. Ivanov has recognized the fault in a hacker's attack on 16 companies, including E-money and PayPal. He is threatened with 20 years of imprisonment and the penalty of 250 thousand dollars.
But there is one thing...
During interrogations Ivanov has recognized, that he interfered in system of company E-money, however he does not know, who is Alex or Victor. And in fact the American authorities think that exactly Ivanov and Gorshkov communicated with Morgenstern. "Someone else talked to him by phone", - Ivanov has declared. And this "someone else» is still working in Russia...
Computer Crime Research Center
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