Over the last year, law enforcement agencies across the globe have been upping their game in the war against cyber crime.
Key successes and developments include:
- Successfully prosecuting the mastermind behind one of the Silk Road cyber black market.
- Increasing the bounty on the suspected author of the Zeus, banking malware, Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev to a staggering $US4.2 million.
- Tracking down and charging alleged members of the infamous “Lizard Squad” hacking team responsible for the Christmas 2014 attacks on the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live gaming services.
Specifically, the agencies reported they had successfully dismantled one of the most dangerous criminal forums and marketplaces in the world, during a global strike codenamed “Operation Shrouded Horizon.”
Known as Darkode among criminals, the forum was a secretive, password protected society of elite hackers.
Europol says Darknode had 250 to 300 active members before it was shut down and housed some of the most infamous hackers in the world.
If even a fraction of the charges brought against the alleged hackers detailed in the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ’s) statement are true, there’s certainly some truth to the forum’s reputation.
Here are the biggest arrests made by the FBI during the “Operation Shrouded Horizon” Darkode takedown:
Johan Anders Gudmunds
Known online as “Mafi,” “Crim,” or “Synthet!c,” Gumunds is a 27 year-old from Sollebrunn.
He is believed to be one of the masterminds behind Darkode and acted as the forum’s administrator. He is also suspected of running a criminal botnet that had enslaved over 50,000 computers.
Botnets, also known as “zombie armies” within hacking culture, are criminal networks of enslaved computers that can be controlled remotely by their owner.
The DoJ believes Gumunds stole information from computers connected to his zombie army over 200,000,000 times.
He is currently facing a laundry list of charges including conspiracy to commit computer fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Morgan C. Culbertson
Known online as Android, 20-year-old Culbertson is one of the youngest men to be charged during the Darkode take down.
From Pittsburgh, Culbertson is charged with conspiring to send malicious code. Specifically, the DoJ believes he created and sold the Dendroid malware.
Dendroid is a specialist form of malware designed to let hackers remotely infect, control, and steal data from Google Android devices.
Adding further intrigue to Culbertson’s case, news broke via Forbes that he interned at advanced attack specialist security firm FireEye before being arrested.
FireEye confirmed Cublertson’s internship to Business Insider, but offered few details about what he learned or did during his time at the company:
“On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, FireEye learned that an intern, Morgan Culbertson, was charged by the US Department of Justice in their global takedown effort of the Darkode hacking forum,” read the statement.
“Mr. Culbertson’s internship has been suspended pending an internal review of his activities. As there are ongoing investigations by external parties and FireEye, we cannot provide any further comment on Mr. Culbertson and his activities.”
Skorjanc is a 28-year-old from Maribor, Slovenia. He is believed to have gone by the names “Iserdo” and “Serdo,” online and is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, conspiracy to commit computer fraud, access device fraud, extortion and substantive computer fraud.
Adding to the list of charges, he is also accused of developing and selling the “ButterFly bot.” The ButterFly Bot is a form of malware designed for novice hackers who want to create a botnet.
The Darkode sting is the second time Skorjanc has been in the firing line of US law enforcement. Skorjanc was arrested in 2010 by the FBI for his part creating and distributing the “Mariposa botnet” software.