The infamous Russian hacker, Vladimir Drinkman, has admitted his contribution in what has been regarded by the Justice Department as “the largest such scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.”
Vladimir Drinkman has pleaded guilty and faces court trial along with four other defendants. The group was accused of hacking corporate computers including machines owned by firms such as Diners Singapore, Nasdaq, JCP, 7-Eleven, Dow Jones, Jet Blue, Ingenicard and Visa Jordan and stealing around 160million credit card numbers. Due to the hacks that they conducted, the corporate sector suffered great losses (approximately $300million), which doesn’t include the losses suffered by private individuals whose credit card data was also stolen.
Drinkman initially pled not guilty after being caught while he was travelling to Amsterdam in 2010. He was immediately sent back to the United States to face the trial. However, this year he changed his tune completely when he was brought to a New Jersey district court in front of Chief Judge Jerome Simandle.
The US Department of Justice maintains that this group of hackers used to monitor the computer systems of hackers for months on end and then they used to exploit the identified SQL database vulnerabilities to infiltrate their networks. Usually, they would leave open a backdoor to compromise the network later. They used to exploit the security holes to install “sniffers,” a type of malware that gather and pilfer user data like the Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and similar crucial information from the targeted computers. These details were then sold to shady online entrepreneurs, who in turn would sell them on different online forums.
Reports suggest that Drinkman and his fellow hackers were extremely careful in their feats since they used encrypted channels only to communicate and even used security software to enhance the layer of protection. They also used to alter the network settings of their victims to prevent their actions from being logged into the computers. However, despite all these measures, Drinkman and co are now behind bars and are facing a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Since Drinkman has pleaded guilty his sentence might be lesser than that of his aides. But, we cannot be sure about their sentences until the group actually get convicted on 15th January 2016.