Architecture, Network security, Strategy

Kudos to federal cybercrime fighters

November 14, 2011
No sooner had the words, “Some perpetrators of cybercrime do get caught,” been posted to the Cybercrime Corner than the FBI announced what might rank as the biggest cybercrime bust so far: “Seven Charged for Engineering Sophisticated internet Fraud Scheme That Infected Millions of Computers Worldwide and Manipulated internet Advertising Business” (Federal Bureau of Investigation press release). Not only were seven charged, but six were arrested, in Estonia, by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, making this investigation, code-named “Operation Ghost Click,” a shining example of international cooperation in cybercrime fighting. (It is likely that embedding cyber-investigators in countries like Estonia and Ukraine, which the FBI started doing in 2009, contributed to this case.)

If anyone needed convincing that cybercrime is now being conducted on an industrial model, this case should do it. As reported in Baltic Business News, the heart of the criminal enterprise taken down by "Operation Ghost Click" was an Estonian IT company called Rove Digital, recently renamed Digitalu Eesti, run by 31 year-old Vladimir Tsastsin (whose name will now be immortalized in the case known as United States V. Vladimir Tsastsin, et al.). Not that Tsastsin is a stranger to law enforcement, being previously convicted and imprisoned by Estonia in 2008 for online fraud, money laundering and forging of documentation. According to Baltic Business News, 150 properties acquired by the accused in this case have been seized, including undeveloped building lots, office buildings and private houses worth a million euros.

And if you're wondering what kind of cooperation, across borders and boundaries, a case like this requires, consider the parties to whom Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, extended praise: the FBI, NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Dutch National Police Agency, Georgia Tech University, Internet Systems Consortium, Mandiant, National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, Neustar, Spamhaus, Team Cymru, Trend Micro, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and members of an ad hoc group of subject matter experts known as the DNS Changer Working Group (DCWG).

We would like to add our praise and thanks as well to our hope that cybercriminals are sleeping a little less soundly as a result of these efforts.
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