Feeds

Eight charged in $9.5m payment processor hack

Gone in 12 hours

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.