WASHINGTON — The United States seized a global network of computer servers known as Gameover Zeus Botnet used by cyber-criminals to spread malware viruses and steal millions of dollars from businesses and consumers, the Justice Department announced Monday.
U.S. and foreign law enforcement agents in a separate action seized the computers that distributed malware known as "CryptoLocker" that freezes access to computer files until victims pay a ransom.
More than $100 million in losses were attributed to the schemes, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers, including a Massachusetts police department that paid a $750 ransom to restore its access to investigative files, digital mugshots and other administrative documents.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole described the Gameover Zeus operation, in which cyber thieves overtake computers to siphon often valuable financial information, the "most sophisticated and damaging botnet we have ever encountered.''
A 14-count indictment, unsealed Monday in Pittsburgh, charges Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, 30, of Anapa, Russia, with directing Gameover Zeus. Charges include conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. Bogachev is charged in Omaha with conspiracy to commit bank fraud for his alleged involvement with an earlier version of the Zeus malware called "Jabber Zeus."