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Russian Sentenced to Prison for Hacking LinkedIn, Dropbox

A Russian national was sentenced to 88 months in prison in the United States for hacking LinkedIn, Dropbox, and Formspring in 2012.

The man, Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin, who will turn 33 next month, was charged in 2016 for using stolen employee credentials to access without authorization the systems of LinkedIn, Dropbox and Formspring. He was arrested in the Czech Republic the same year and was extradited to the U.S. two years later.

In April 2019, the Czech Republic’s highest court said that Nikulin’s rights were violated when he was extradited to the United States in March 2018, before a separate asylum case went through the court system.

Nikulin, who lived a luxury life, owning expensive cars and watches, was also linked to the 2013 theft of cryptocurrency from BitMarket.eu and is believed to have made more money from this attack than from the trading of usernames and passwords.

He is said to have stolen the credentials of roughly 117 million Americans, which he then attempted to sell on underground portals for €5,500 (roughly $6,200).

Evidence presented in court revealed that Nikulin managed to hack into the computers of LinkedIn, Dropbox, and Formspring employees, and then install malware to remotely control the machines and steal the employees’ login information.

Investigators were able to trace at least one intrusion back to an IP address associated with a Moscow location where Nikulin lived at the time.

The hacker was found guilty by a United States jury in early July.

Prior to the sentencing hearing, which was scheduled for September 29, prosecutors sought a sentence of 145 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and restitution.

Nikulin’s lawyers, Adam Gasner and Valery Nechay, disputed the amount of loss caused by the intrusions and also argued that the hacker had been in custody for a total of 48 months already, asking the court to sentence him to time served.

The hacker was sentenced to 88 months in prison (64 months for trafficking in unauthorized access devices and damaging a protected computer, and 60 months for computer intrusion and conspiracy, which will be served concurrently, and 24 months for aggravated identity theft), of which he will serve 85%, or 74.8 months, minus the time already served.

Nikulin was also sentenced to three years of supervised release (provided that he is not deported to Russia as soon as released from prison) and ordered to pay restitution of $1 million to LinkedIn, $514,000 to Dropbox, $20,000 to Formspring, and $250,000 to WordPress parent company Automattic (although he was not charged for this hack as well).

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