Colombian authorities arrested hacker behind the Gozi Virus

Pierluigi Paganini June 30, 2021

Colombian authorities arrested a Romanian hacker who is wanted in the U.S. for distributing the Gozi virus that already infected more than a million computers.

Colombian officials announced the arrest of the Romanian hacker Mihai Ionut Paunescu who is wanted in the U.S. for his key role in the distribution of the Gozi virus that infected more than a million computers from 2007 to 2012.

Paunescu was arrested in Romania in 2012, but was able to avoid extradition. Colombia’s Attorney General’s office announced that the cybercriminal was detained at Bogota’s international airport.

Paunescu was charged with computer intrusion and banking fraud in the Southern District Court of New York, he is accused of being a member of a gang behind the Gozi virus.

The Gozi banking Trojan is not a new threat, it was first spotted by security researchers in 2007. According to the experts, the Gozi Banking Malware infected more than 1 million computers worldwide, causing tens of millions of dollars in losses.

Prosecutors claim that the malware has infected systems in at least eight countries, including the United States, Germany, Finland and the United Kingdom.

Paunescu designed the infrastructure used to spread the Gozi virus, the gang also implemented a malware-as-a-service model to offer the banking malware to criminal operators for a fee of $500 a week.

In May 2016, Nikita Kuzmin, the Russian national who created the Gozi virus, has been sentenced to time served and ordered to pay nearly $7 million.

Kuzmin was arrested by Us law enforcement in November 2010 and pleaded guilty to various computer crimes.

Another member of the gang, a Latvian programmer who helped design the virus, received a 21-month prison sentence after being extradited to the U.S.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Gozi)

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