Feds take down one of world's largest malicious botnets

2 weeks ago 59

5/29: CBS Morning News

5/29: CBS Morning News 20:15

Washington — Federal investigators took down 1 of the world's largest malicious botnets, 1 that helped make tens of thousands of fraudulent transactions that outgo victims billions — including galore related to COVID alleviation funding.

Law enforcement besides arrested the botnet's administrator, YunHe Wang, a Chinese national. He's been accused of orchestrating an planetary crippled to deploy malware and surreptitiously merchantability entree to the infected computers' IP addresses. IP addresses, a drawstring of numbers and dots, enactment arsenic unsocial identifiers for the devices and domains connected the internet, allowing them to pass with each different and nonstop accusation backmost and forth.

Wang is charged with starring an cognition — known arsenic the 911 S5 Botnet —  that deployed 19 cardinal compromised IP addresses successful implicit 190 countries, utilizing them arsenic "an infrastructure road for carrying retired crimes specified arsenic weaponry threats, fiscal fraud, individuality theft, kid exploitation, archetypal entree brokering, and galore different machine crimes," according to FBI cyber part lawman adjunct manager Brett Leatherman.

Officials confirmed Wang was financially motivated, with nary known nonstop ties to nation-states. 

Wang allegedly purchased $30 cardinal successful spot successful the U.S., St. Kitts and Nevis, China, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates, and paid implicit $4 cardinal for luxury items including a BMW, Rolls Royce and respective watches, according to tribunal documents. 

More than 600,000 of the IP addresses were successful the U.S. Wang was arrested connected Friday and charged successful a four-count indictment including conspiracy and machine fraud. 

According to tribunal papers, Wang allegedly sold his unsuspecting victims assorted Virtual Private Network (VPN) programs. 

VPN extensions are routinely utilized to encrypt an net connection, routing it done a distant server to disguise an IP code and fell the user's browsing past and location. 

In this case, these VPN programs installed malicious bundle connected the computers erstwhile downloaded, secretly allowing their IP addresses to beryllium coopted remotely. Investigators said Wang past doled retired the stolen IP addresses to cybercriminals for millions of dollars to facilitate the illicit activity.

By operating nether the guise of the victims' IP addresses, cybercriminals could transportation retired their schemes and debar detection by instrumentality enforcement. In immoderate cases, according to prosecutors, Wang adjacent sold entree to the IP addresses based connected the peculiar geographic needs of the criminals. 

Leatherman warned that malicious VPN services downloaded included Mask VPN, Dew VPN, Paladin VPN, Proxy Gate, Shield VPN and Shine VPN. 

"Cybercriminals person utilized the 911 S5 work to bypass fiscal fraud detection systems successful the United States and elsewhere and person successfully stolen billions of dollars from fiscal institutions, recognition paper issuers and relationship holders, and national lending programs since 2014," according to charging documents. In 1 instance, prosecutors said much than $5.9 cardinal successful imaginable pandemic alleviation fraud losses were tied to IP addresses "exploited and trafficked" by Wang's botnet. 

Investigators said a cardinal facet of the increasing web of infected computers was Wang and his co-conspirators' quality to infect victims without their cognition and bypass bundle that usually detects viruses. 

In all, prosecutors said Wang allegedly made much than $99 cardinal from his income of the hijacked IP addresses and worked with others to launder immoderate of his proceeds done U.S. banks.

"The bulk of the fraud came from fraudulent pandemic alleviation money applications," said Leatherman. "That is simply a important theft against Americans who successful precise hard times were looking for fiscal alleviation related to the pandemic."

"There's an full ecosystem, which enables the activities of cyber criminals from Bitcoin to elder fraud to ransomware, and illicit behaviour from federation states," helium added. 

"Working with our planetary partners, the FBI conducted a joint, sequenced cyber cognition to dismantle the 911 S5 Botnet—likely the world's largest botnet ever," FBI Director Christopher Wray said successful a connection Wednesday. 

FBI officials said some Singapore and Thailand's authorities were "critical" to Wang's apprehension aft they conducted searches and interviews and seized assets. U.S. officials are moving with Singapore's authorities to extradite him to the U.S. 

Law enforcement seized 23 domains and implicit 70 servers, dismantling a web of infected devices that investigators accidental Wang and co-conspirators constructed from 2014 to 2022.

"You tin ne'er warrant 100% dismantlement of these networks, but taking him into custody besides serves arsenic a cardinal milestone for us," noted Leatherman. "The probe is not over," helium added. "Through carnal hunt warrants, conducting interviews and seizures, we volition hopefully place artifacts and grounds which pb america to different individuals who usage that work to people guiltless American individuals and corporations."

An lawyer for Wang could not beryllium instantly identified. 

The FBI has created a webpage to let imaginable victims to find if their instrumentality has been compromised, and pb them done a self-remediation process. 

Robert Legare

Robert Legare is simply a CBS News multiplatform newsman and shaper covering the Justice Department, national courts and investigations. He was antecedently an subordinate shaper for the "CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell."

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