Feeds

Alleged Russian spam-lord hauled into US court

Bogus todger-stiffening pills flogged to Wisconsin cops

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

A Russian who allegedly at one time ran a network of compromised machines responsible for a third of global spam appeared in federal court in Wisconsin on Friday to deny the charges.

Oleg Y Nikolaenko, 23, a resident of Moscow, faces charges that he forged email spam messages in violation of the US CAN-SPAM Act, following his arrest in Las Vegas' Bellagio Hotel last month.

Prosecutors allege that the Russian was responsible for pumping out a staggering 10 billion spam messages per day, touting penis pills and counterfeit goods using the infamous Mega-D botnet network.

Nikolaenko (pictured in a CNN story here) entered a not guilty plea. He was denied bail after prosecutors successfully arguing he presented a flight risk if released.

The prosecution is taking place in Wisconsin because local agents there bought a specimen purchase of Viagra through a Canadian Pharmacy operation allegedly promoted by Nikolaenko's junk mails, AP reports. The pills unsurprisingly turned out to be counterfeit.

Federal investigators got a lead on Nikolaenko after arresting one of his alleged clients, a dodgy businessman promoting sales of counterfeit Rolex watches through junk mail. Australian Lance Atkinson, who ran the Affking email marketing and counterfeiting scam business until he was collared in 2008, is allegedly pointing the finger of blame towards Nikolaenko as part of a plea bargaining deal according to this KrebsOnSecurity report.

The electronic trail of the subsequent investigation led back through command and control servers in Australia onto Gmail accounts and electronic payment records tied back to Nikolaenko, as explained in greater depth by Gary Warner's CyberCrime & Doing Time blog here.

The Mega-D zombie network was infamous as a source of spam prior to a January 2009 takedown operation mounted by security firm FireEye, which failed to kill off the botnet entirely but did at least drastically reduce its output since. Security vendors welcomed the arrest of Nikolaenko as the final nail in the Mega-D coffin, while warning other spam-spewing zombie networks have risen to take its place.

Joe Stewart, director of malware analysis at security tools firm SecureWorks, commented: "Before being disrupted by FireEye, Mega-D rivalled Cutwail and Rustock as one of the top three spam botnets in the world. In 2009, the botnet was capable of sending 16 billion spam messages per day.

"Between FireEye's efforts and the arrest of Nikolaenko, Mega-D has finally been put out of commission. However, other botnets are already filling the void left by Mega-D, showing that we still have a long way to go in the fight against spam." ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
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.