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U.S. Cyberattack Traced to St. Petersburg Teenager

Published: January 21, 2014 (Issue # 1793)



  • Dubbed "Kaptoxa," the malicious software compromised millions of credit- and debit-card accounts in the U.S.
    Photo: Matthew Roth / Creative Commons

Investigators have traced the cyberattack that affected millions of U.S. shoppers during the holiday season to a 17-year-old Russian, who reportedly sold his malicious software on the black market for $2,000 a pop, a computer security firm said.

The California-based IntelCrawler firm said in a report posted online this weekend that its security researchers have linked the attack to Sergei Taraspov, a "very well known programmer of malicious code in underground" and said the suspect was a teenager with "roots" in St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod.

The attack has compromised millions of credit- and debit-card accounts and personal data for customers of U.S. retailer Target and other stores, also stoking concerns that those people may become vulnerable to identity theft.

Internet Troll Operation Uncovered in St. Petersburg

Taraspov, who went by the online nickname of "ree[4]," wrote the malicious software, called BlackPOS, and sold it to the perpetrators of the attacks on the Internet black market, IntelCrawler said.

IntelCrawler posted excerpts from supposed online conversations between "ree[4]" and his customers in Internet chat rooms, discussing details of the program and the price to buy it.

Taraspov was selling his code for $2,000, but offered discounts to buyers who agreed to split the profits they reaped from the product, IntelCrawler's chief executive Andrew Komarov said, the New York Post reported this weekend.

Anti-Piracy Law Is Good, Tech Makes It Better

The malicious software was dubbed "Kaptoxa" — a mixture of Cyrillic and Latin reading of letters that spells the Russian word "kartokha," a colloquial term for "potato."

The programmer "is still visible for us, but the real bad actors responsible for the past attacks on retailers such as Target and Neiman Marcus were just his customers", IntelCrawler President Dan Clements said in the online report.

The firm has identified six additional breaches at other retailers of various sizes across the country, Komarov said, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

Target declined to comment on the findings.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Dec. 28


Prepare for the holidays at the Russian Winter New Year’s Fair on Moskovskaya Ploshchad, which concludes today after starting on Dec. 22. Games and attractions as well as numerous performances will be on offer for those looking to get into the spirit while numerous vendors will help make sure you have something for everyone on your list.



Monday, Dec. 29


Learn how the Swedes observe Christmas, or Jul, in their land of ice and snow, during aSwedish Christmas celebration at the Lermontov Children’s Library this afternoon at 4 p.m. Activities explaining and demonstrating Sweden’s cultural traditions will be accompanied by traditional dishes and sweets.



Tuesday, Dec. 30


Today is the final day of the Christmas Market at the Europolis shopping center on Polyustrovsky prospekt. Indulge your holiday sweet tooth by tucking into some gingerbread men, or attend one of the master classes that will teach you about how to make beautiful, festive decorations for your tree using only your hands.



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