Swedish man sentenced for powerful Blackshades malware

Alex Yucel was accused of being the mastermind behind the data-stealing program

Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a press conference in New York announcing the Blackshades arrests in May 2014.

Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a press conference in New York announcing the Blackshades arrests in May 2014.

The creator of a tool that was used to steal data from a half-million computers will go to prison for close to five years, the U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Alex Yucel, 25, of Sweden, pleaded guilty in February in a New York federal court to one count of distributing malicious software. He was sentenced to four and three-quarter years in prison and must forfeit $200,000, according to a news release.

Yucel was accused of creating and managing the sale of Blackshades, a remote access tool that was widely used by the criminal underground.

Blackshades was used to steal files, logins and passwords for online accounts and sometimes to encrypt the files on a computer in order to demand a ransom.

Yucel was accused of orchestrating an underground business that sold the program on a website for $40 per copy. Between September 2010 and April 2014, Blackshades sales generated more than $350,000 in revenue, prosecutors said.

Blackshades was slipped onto victims' computers through malicious links distributed via spam, or by other hackers hired to install it using software vulnerabilities.

Law enforcement waged a wide-ranging, international campaign to shut down Blackshades. Ninety-seven people in 16 countries who were suspected of involvement with the malware were arrested in May 2014.

Yucel was arrested in Moldova in November 2013. He was the first person to be extradited from that country to the U.S.

Michael Hogue, who was accused of being a co-creator of Blackshades, pleaded guilty in January 2013 and is still awaiting sentencing.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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