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$3 Million Bounty for Russian Hacker

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The FBI is offering a $3 million bounty for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of a Russian hacker suspected of building and distributing a troubling Trojan virus called ZeuS.

The hacker, named Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, is thought to have created a malware program that has been behind the theft of millions of dollars from bank accounts in the US and Europe, including a $415,000 theft from Bullitt County, Kentucky.

In addition to having helped build and distribute this cyberweapon and stealing millions of dollars, Bogachev is thought to be part of a hacker group that has stolen sensitive information, infecting tens of millions of computers and renting out the hacked computer systems to other hackers and cybercriminals.  Bogachev made the ZeuS code available to anyone who was willing to pay a few thousand dollars for it and even setting it up for people looking to use it.

Twenty people connected to Bogachev's crime ring were arrested in the UK in 2010 and over half of them were charged with money laundering and other crimes.  Five more were arrested in Ukraine, but they were later released.

Following the crackdown, Bogachev announced that he would be retiring, though it appears he instead just got out of selling ZeuS and began developing a more robust version of it.  Indeed, by 2011 more banks and businesses were being hit with a new version of ZeuS called Gameover.  Gameover mounted a DDoS attack on banks then stole their money.

Since then, over a million computers have been found to have been infected by ZeuS and its variants.  Microsoft, cybersecurity firms, the US Justice Department and organizations in other countries have worked to take out botnets powered by ZeuS and its offspring.  Still, the orchestrator of all this damaging malware is still out there, thought to be hiding somewhere in Russia or Ukraine.