US takes down huge botnet as Spain arrests notorious Russian
US authorities have moved to take down a global computer botnet behind the massive theft of personal data and unwanted spam emails, as Spain arrested the notorious Russian hacker who operated it.
US authorities say the Russian, Piotr or Peter Levashov, had operated the Kelihos network of tens of thousands of infected computers, stealing personal data and renting the network out to others to send spam emails by the millions and extort ransom from computer owners.
Levashov, also known in the hacking world as Peter Severa, was arrested at Barcelona airport on Friday at the US request.
A Spanish judge yesterday ordered him to be remanded in custody as Washington is expected to seek his extradition.
Spanish police said in a statement late yesterday that the arrest was the result of a “complex inquiry carried out in collaboration with the American FBI.”
A US indictment unsealed yesterday said Levashov, 36 and a native of St Petersburg, had operated the Kelihos botnet since around 2010.
It was not the first time US officials have gone after him. In 2008 he was indicted as a Russia-based partner of the leading US spammer, Alan Ralsky. Ralsky and others were jailed in that case but Levashov was never caught.
The Kelihos …read more