Internet Dreams Turn To Crime

from the behind-the-hackers dept

The story of the Russian extortion hackers who were lured into the US by promises of a fake job by the FBI (who then stole their own passwords from a “test” hack to get the information they needed to arrest them) was widely covered in the press. The Washington Post, however, is now doing a huge series going into much more detail on the case. They’ve broken it down into three (incredibly long) articles. The first is a look at how the hackers first got involved, painting them as programmers who simply wanted to build a Silicon Valley-style dot com, but through circumstances came upon hacked-extortions as a way to survive. It then explains how their basic scam worked (simple hacking on unsecure networks, and then a very straightforward approach to the company – believing they were safe in Russia). They even quote some people who paid up the extortion demands happily, with one saying: “He seemed like a bright kid who just wanted to make some money and get out of his country. I thought maybe he would move on to better things.” The second article in the series describes how the FBI tracked them down and set up the “fake job offer” sting. The articles are quite sympathetic to the hackers, and suggest that they were just cogs in an organized crime machine that was being run at a much deeper level by someone with a much better understanding of extortion and money laundering. Interesting reads, and there’s still one more part that I’m assuming comes out tomorrow.

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