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Siberian crooks dev'd custom malware in ATM slurp heist scheme

Bent bank insiders braceleted in Arctic busts

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Russian cybercrooks contracted a virus writer to develop custom-made malware before launching a plot to loot compromised ATM machines.

Although the gang – mostly from Yakutsk, a mid-sized city close to the Artic Circle in Siberia – were ultimately caught, the sophistication, planning and investment that went into their plot ought to be a wake-up call for the banking industry.

The Moscow-based leader of the gang contacted a virus writer through an underground forum and paid him 100,000 rubles ($3,200) to create malware capable of infecting ATMs, security site Host Exploit reports.

A series of corrupt banking industry insiders had already been recruited by the gang. One leading member of the gang worked as a system admin for a bank, a role that gave him the opportunity to distribute the malware on ATMs. He needn't have worried too much about his bosses getting wind of the scheme because one of his cohorts was the bank's head of IT. Once in place, the malware allowed the gang to obtain bank card details and associated PIN codes for later fraud.

Other members of the group were to act as money mules, cashing out funds from compromised accounts, before funds were distributed. Fortunately officers from the Ministry of the Interior got wind of the scam and arrested the gang before the devilish scheme came to fruition. Police mounted a series of raids leading to arrests as well as the seizure of malware samples, credit card records and computer equipment used to carry out the alleged scam. The alleged virus writer was also captured in the round-up.

A Google translation of a Russian Ministry of the Interior statement on the case can be found here. ®

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