Google is suing two Russian nationals it claims are part of a criminal enterprise that has silently infiltrated more than a million computers and devices around the world, creating “a modern technological and borderless incarnation of organised crime.”
In a complaint being unsealed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Google names two defendants, Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov, as well as 15 unnamed individuals. Google claims the defendants have created a “botnet” known as Glupteba, to use for illicit purposes, including the theft and unauthorised use of Google users’ login and account information.
A botnet is a network of internet-connected devices that have been infected with malware. When summoned together, they can do the bidding of a hacker, often with the devices’ owners not realising their machines have been hijacked. A swarm of devices can jam traffic at websites, run malware to steal login credentials, sell fraudulent credit cards online and grant unauthorized access to other cyber criminals.
The Glupteba botnet stands out from others because of its “technical sophistication,” using blockchain technology to protect itself from disruption, Google said in the complaint. At any moment, the power of the Glupteba botnet could be used in a powerful ransomware attack or distributed denial of service attack, Google said.
It’s the first time that Google is going after a botnet, a spokesperson for the Mountain View, California-based company said in an email. “We are taking this action to further protect internet users and to send a message to cyber criminals that we will not tolerate this type of activity.”
The spokesperson said the company worked with the…