Four individuals from Eastern Europe have pleaded guilty in a United States court to their roles in a RICO conspiracy. Between 2008 and 2015, the four individuals provided “bulletproof hosting” services that threat actors employed for cyberattacks on entities in the United States.
While similar to regular web hosting, bulletproof hosting services allow cybercriminals to store all kinds of malicious content on their servers and make no attempt to interrupt such nefarious activities.
Two Russians, Aleksandr Grichishkin, 34, and Andrei Skvortsov, 34; one Lithuanian, Aleksandr Skorodumov, 33; and one Estonian, Pavel Stassi, 30, admitted in court to founding and operating a bulletproof hosting organization.
The four rented servers, IP addresses, and domains to cybercriminals, providing them with the means to distribute malware, ensnare victim computers into botnets, and steal banking credentials.
Some of the malware families known to have leveraged the group’s hosting services included Citadel, SpyEye, Zeus, and the Blackhole Exploit Kit. Between 2009 and 2015, these malware families targeted U.S. companies and financial institutions, causing or attempting to cause millions of dollars in losses.
The four also helped their cybercriminal clients evade detection by law enforcement through continuous monitoring of sites used to blocklist cybercrime infrastructure and by moving the flagged content to new infrastructure. The group used false or stolen identities to register the required infrastructure.
The organization was founded by Grichishkin and Skvortsov, who oversaw personnel and marketing and client relations, respectively. Skorodumov served as a lead system administrator, configuring and managing domains and IP addresses and offering technical assistance. Stassi was in charge of administrative tasks such as conducting and tracking online marketing and registering web hosting and financial accounts using stolen and/or false information.
Skvortsov pled guilty to one count of RICO conspiracy on Friday. Stassi, Skorodumov, and Grichishkin admitted guilt in February and March 2021, the Department of Justice announced. Stassi is set for sentencing on June 3, while Skorodumov, Grichishkin, and Skvortsov will be sentenced on June 29, July 8, and September 16, respectively.
Each of the four faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
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