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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

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburg’s answer to the United States’ popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genre’s authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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