Russian Hacker Caught

Alleged Russian hacker Validimir Drinkman, 34, was arraigned yesterday on hacking into 16 companies including The NASDAQ stock exchange, 7-11, J.C. Penney, Dow Jones, Heartland Payment Systems and others and stealing 160 million credit card numbers (see article).  The attacks go as far back as 2005.   Brian Krebs provides an inventory of some of the companies he is charged with attacking (see article).

The attack occurred several years ago and some of their companies were attacked again after this attack, but what is interesting is that Drinkman is sitting in a cell in New Jersey.

He, along with 4 conspirators, was indicted in the U.S. in 2009.  The indictment was unsealed in 2013.  He and one of his co-conspirators was arrested in the Netherlands,  Drinkman was just extradited last week;  The other conspirator who was arrested with him is already in Federal custody.

So how did they catch him and how did they get him to New Jersey?  Forbes had a piece that said he used encryption.  If you ask the police, that makes it impossible for them.  Apparently not always because they have chat logs of him bragging with his friends.

Bragging usually gets you in trouble.

His bigger mistake was setting foot on Dutch soil.  None of the articles I found explained why he was there, but the U.S. and The Netherlands are mostly friendly, so getting him charged, arrested and extradited from there was bureaucratic, but relatively simple.  If he had stayed in Moscow, he would still be a free person.

While capturing these guys is still the exception, there have been a few high profile wins for the feds lately, which indicates to me that they are applying more resources to going after these guys.  Similar to the early 20th century, when the U.S. Marshall Service and later the FBI started going after bank robbers and more of them were apprehended, the feds are finally going after hackers.  Hopefully this is the start of a good trend.

He is scheduled to go on trial this spring assuming there are no delays.  He says he is innocent and wants to go home to Moscow.  I wouldn’t bet on that happening any time soon.  If convicted, he faces up to 70 years in the pokey.  Stay tuned.