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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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