Feeds

Eight charged in $9.5m payment processor hack

Gone in 12 hours

Seven Steps to Software Security

Eight men connected to an international crime ring have been charged with hacking into Atlanta-based bank card processor RBS WorldPay and stealing more than $9m in 12 hours.

The men - from Russia, Moldova and Estonia - are accused of gaining access to the RBS computer network and retrieving payment card data as they were being processed. After raising the amount of funds available on the cards, the men dispatched cashers in 280 cities worldwide to withdraw money from automatic teller machines, according to court papers.

The 16-count indictment, filed Tuesday in Atlanta, is a major victory for federal agents pursuing one of the most brazen and profitable hacking crimes in recent memory. Four of the suspects appear to be senior members of the crime ring who helped mastermind the operation. They were charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, access device fraud aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy.

If convicted on all counts, they face a maximum of well more than 50 years in federal prison. They will also be forced to forfeit more than $9.4m in proceeds. The four were identified as Sergei Tsurikov, 25, of Tallinn, Estonia; Viktor Pleshchuk, 25, of St. Petersburg, Russia; Oleg Covelin, 28, of Chisinau, Moldova; and an individual identified only as "Hacker 3."

The four men also face a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated identity theft and fines up to $3.5 million dollars.

According to prosecutors, Covelin identified a vulnerability that made it possible to illegally access the RBS network. Between November 4 and November 8 of 2008, Tsurikov, Pleshchuk, and Hacker 3 broke into the system and "reverse engineered personal identification numbers (PINs) from the encrypted data on the RBS WorldPay computer network," according to the indictment.

In all, they obtained data for 44 payment cards, 42 of which were issued by a financial institution known as the Palm Desert National Bank. Over 12 hours on November 8, withdrawals made at more than 2,100 ATM terminals located in the US, Ukraine, Italy, Hong Kong, and elsewhere drained more than $9m from the accounts.

While the cashers removed the loot, the ringleaders logged on to the RBS system and monitored. After the the withdrawals were completed, the men tried to destroy data on the RBS network in an attempt to conceal their footprints.

Four of the men named appeared to play the role of cashers. Ronald Tsoi, 31, Evelin Tsoi, 20, and Mihhail Jevgenov, 33, withdrew a combined $289,000 from ATMs in their home town of Tallinn, Estonia, according to court papers. They received the card data they used from Igor Grudijev, 31.

A unit of Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS WorldPay disclosed last December that a security breach the previous month had subjected 100 cards to actual fraud and may have exposed data for another 1.5 million. It also said 1.1 million social security numbers may have been accessed. The company has yet to explain how its defenses were pierced or what it has done to prevent it from happening again.

Tsurikov, Ronald Tsoi, Evelin Tsoi and Jevgenov were arrested earlier this year in Estonia and a request for extradition to the US is pending for Tsurikov.

Covelin was indicted in September in a separate alleged scheme that pilfered $4m using more than 95,000 stolen credit cards. He remains at large. The whereabouts of Pleshchuk remains unclear.

Federal authorities said the investigation was aided by strong cooperation of their counterparts around the world, particularly the Estonian Central Criminal Police. They also credited RBS for its help. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Attackers raid SWISS BANKS with DNS and malware bombs
'Retefe' trojan uses clever spin on old attacks to grant total control of bank accounts
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.