Yesterday the federal government charged three men for their roles in creating and spreading the Gozi computer virus, which stole personal banking information from victims and was even able to infect computers at NASA.
The three men charged in the crime, Nikita Kuzmin, Deniss Caloviskis and Mihai Ionut Paunescu, all face at least 60 years in prison. Kuzmin is currently in US custody while Caloviskis and Paunescu have been arrested in Latvia and Romania respectively. Extradition proceedings for the two out-of-country defendants are ongoing.
The Gozi virus was spread via PDF attachments and anyone who opened it had their computer infected. The problem was that Gozi was very hard to detect and many people never even realized their computers had been hit. It is thought that 40,000 PCs in the United States alone have been infected.
Created in 2005 when Kuzmin designed the virus and hired a computer programmer to write the code for it, Gozi was originally available for hackers to use on a subscription basis before Kuzmin began straight-up selling the virus in 2009. Gozi is believed to have affected more than one million computers around the globe and caused tens of millions dollars worth of damage.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bhara said in a press release about the case: “Cyber criminals’ bank heists require neither a mask nor a gun, just a clever program and an Internet connection. This case should serve as a wake-up call to banks and consumers alike, because cybercrime remains one of the greatest threats we face, and it is not going away any time soon.”
Although the virus was created in 2005, it wasn’t detected until 2007.