Russian Carberp botnet kingpin arrested

“Germes” made US$4.5 million, managed 25 in affiliate style program.

The Russian Interior Ministry is predicting a fall in theft after the arrest of a 22 year-old ringleader behind the Carberp banking trojan botnet.

The botnet operator who was not named but is said to have been known in hacker circles as “Germes” and “Arashi” is alleged to have controlled a 4.5 million strong botnet and infected six million computers.

The ministry said this was the “largest ever previously known” network of banking trojans, which used the Carberp banking trojan to steal cash, logins, passwords and digital signatures. The ministry's Department K raided Germes house and seized computers, media and documents showing his involvement in the cybercime operation since 2009.

The accused is alleged to have stolen 150 million rubles (US$4.5 million), which would be more than double that two brothers, aged 26 and 29, were accused of stealing after their arrests this March in connection with Carberp.

It’s not clear how the two separate arrests are connected. However, Group IB, the Russian security outfit that assisted with the investigation that led to the earlier arrests, said Germes was centrally involved from the outset of Carberp.

The company said Germes created a multimillion banking botnet in 2009 using the Hodprot malware, which became known as Origami and by 2011 evolved into Carberp.

Germes created the control panel for the DRPdoor malware, which was used to steal funds directly via the computers of banking clients.

The group of 25 people he managed, excluding those hired to withdraw cash from ATMs, were the first to use Carberp with a bootkit to evade antivirus detection, according to Group IB.

The company said the actual amount stolen “may be ten-fold” the 150 million rubles made, with victims including both Russian Federation and foreign banks.

The Carberp malware was known to have been infecting users with the BlackHole exploit kit in 2011, but in 2012 it switched to another kit named “Nuclear Pack”, helping it infect 6 million computers.

The Russian Interior Ministry said Germes used the funds to buy a luxury home in a Russian resort town and expensive foreign cars.

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