Science and Tech


FBI Joins Global Effort To Find 'GameOver Zeus' Hacker

The FBI and several global authorities want to bring to justice the man responsible for the GameOver Zeus botnet and Cyptolocker malware.
Posted at 4:19 PM, Jun 03, 2014

​A worldwide manhunt begins for a Russian native charged with stealing millions of dollars using the GameOver Zeus botnet and Cryptolocker schemes.

"It's game over for hackers using a powerful identify theft network. Authorities say they have taken down the so-called GameOver Zeus botnet. ... It's estimated GameOver Zeus was responsible for more than $100 million in losses among American victims alone." (Via WZVN)

The FBI believes this man, Evgeniy Bogachev, is the mastermind behind the computer malware, which uses a network of infected computers to steal bank account information. He was last known to be living in Russia. Authorities indicted Bogachev in a Pittsburgh court Monday. (Via FBI)

In a press briefing, Deputy Attorney General James Cole stressed the seriousness of Zeus. (Via CTV)

"GameOver Zeus is the most sophisticated and damaging botnet we have ever encountered. … The GameOver Zeus software intercepts passwords and other private information that can be used to conduct wire transfers and then initiates or redirects wire transfers from victim's bank account to foreign accounts controlled by criminals." (Via Euronews)

Currently, the FBI, along with other global cybercrime authorities, have seized control of the computer networks powering Zeus, essentially paralyzing the system.

However, its frozen state is only temporary, according to the BBC. This means users with infected computers have, at best estimate, one to two weeks to clean and protect their computers before the network returns. Several tech outlets say any up-to-date antivirus software, like Norton, should do the trick.

Authorities claim Bogachev's GameOver Zeus infected computers with two malware designs.  

The first enlisted a computer into a network of infected computers to attack banking enterprises with the commonly known distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack. This flooded the bank's server with traffic and crippled its website. The DDoS attack is used as a distraction while the bad guys quietly drain bank accounts in the background with stolen identities.

The other design, known as Cryptolocker, is essentially cyberextortion. The program is distributed to malware-infected computers and encrypts every file. This locks access to documents, photos and files while demanding a ransom for their release. More often than not, people pay up.

The FBI has been tracking GameOver Zeus since 2011. The Department of Justice estimates at its peak, Bogachev's network infected up to 1 million computers worldwide and made withdrawals exceeding $1 million.

Despite the global effort by authorities disable the network and catch its creator, Bogachev's future is in the hands of one country: Russia. Deputy General Cole said he is "in talks" with Russia on moving forward, but it's also known Russia does not extradite accused criminals to other countries, so Bogachev might never be arrested.