Feeds

'Broke' Estonian suspect pleads guilty to DNSChanger click fraud scam

Cybercrooks netted $14m after infecting 4m machines

SANS - Survey on application security programs

An Estonian man has pleaded guilty to involvement in the DNSChanger click fraud scam. The Trojan infected 4 million computers worldwide, netting cybercrooks an estimated $14m in the process.

Valeri Aleksejev, 32, pleaded guilty to fraud and computer hacking offences at a hearing at a US federal court on Friday, Reuters reports. Aleksejev is the first of six Estonians and one Russian indicted in 2011 following a high-profile takedown operation. They face five charges each of wire and computer intrusion. One of the defendants, Vladimir Tsastsin, was charged with 22 counts of money laundering.

The DNSChanger malware at the centre of the scam changed internet address look-up settings on infected computers so that surfers attempting to reach Apple's iTunes website, the Inland Revenue Service, or Netflix's movie website were routed towards unaffiliated businesses. The ads presented to surfers visiting Amazon, The Wall Street Journal and other sites from infected machines were also under the control of cybercrooks, who earned a slice of the resulting advertising revenue from third-party affiliates. The scam ran for around four years between 2007 and late 2011.

In court, Aleksejev said he had helped write code that blocked infected machines from receiving anti-virus updates. His lawyer claimed his client was broke.

Aleksejev and five other Estonians were arrested by police in the Baltic republic in November 2011. Another Estonian suspect, Anton Ivanov, has already been extradited, while extradition proceedings involving the other four remain ongoing. A Russian suspect in the case, Andrey Taame, has not been apprehended.

The DNSChanger operation was shut down after a two-year FBI-led investigation dubbed Operation Ghost Click. The feds set up temporary DNS systems to service requests from infected machines for months after the takedown, a move designed to give corporates time to clean up infected systems. The case is: USA v Tsastsin et al, US District Court in Manhattan, No 11-00878. Aleksejev won't be sentenced until 31 May. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.