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Russian Hacker Sentenced to Prison for Ebury Botnet Attacks

A 41-year-old Russian citizen has been sentenced to 46 months in prison by a court in the U.S. state of Minnesota for his role in a cybercrime scheme involving a botnet powered by the Linux malware known as Ebury.

Maxim Senakh was indicted in the U.S. in January 2015 and was later arrested by authorities in Finland. His extradition to the United States was approved in January 2016 and, earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

After serving his 46-month prison sentence in the United States, Senakh will be deported to Russia.

According to U.S. authorities, Senakh and his accomplices used the Ebury malware, an OpenSSH backdoor and credential stealer, to create a botnet that helped them make millions of dollars through click-fraud and email spam campaigns.

The Russian national, who admitted profiting from the traffic generated by the botnet, was responsible for registering domains used for the command and control (C&C) infrastructure.

Ebury was first spotted in 2011. Security firm ESET, Germany’s CERT‑Bund, the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) published a detailed analysis of the malware in February 2014.

The U.S. Department of Justice said the botnet operated by Senakh and his co-conspirators ensnared tens of thousands of servers across the world, including thousands in the U.S.

“The defendant and his co-conspirators sought to turn a network of thousands of infected computers in the United States and around the world into their personal cash machines,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. “But cybercriminals like Mr. Senakh should take heed: they are not immune from U.S. prosecution just because they operate from afar or behind a veil of technology. We have the ability and the determination to identify them, find them, and bring them to justice.”

Several Russian hackers have been sentenced to prison this year in the United States, including Mark Vartanyan, Alexander Tverdokhlebov and Roman Valeryevich Seleznev.

Related Reading: US Takes Down Huge Botnet as Spain Arrests Notorious Russian Hacker

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.