27 August 2020

Russian national arrested for attempting to recruit an insider to plant malware in US firm’s network


Russian national arrested for attempting to recruit an insider to plant malware in US firm’s network

The FBI has arrested a Russian citizen for trying to recruit an employee of an unnamed Nevada-based company to infect company’s computer network with malware.

According to the US Justice Department, 27-year-old Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov has offered to pay as much as $1 million to the employee. Kriuchkov, who was arrested on August 22, 2020, in Los Angeles, was charged with one count of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer.

According to the complaint, from about July 15, 2020 to about August 22, 2020, Kriuchkov and his co-conspirators allegedly tried to recruit an employee of a company to plant malware into the company’s computer network. The malware was meant to provide Kriuchkov and his associates with access to the company’s system, which they then would use for exfiltrating data from the organization’s internal network. The goal was to steal data from the company and then threaten to make the information public, unless the company paid their ransom demand. Kriuchkov and his associates were allegedly also planning on launching a DDoS attack to divert attention from the malware.

Kriuchkov first made contact with the employee on July 16 via WhatsApp through a mutual acquaintance. Kriuchkov then flew from Russia to the US to travel with the employee for a trip to Lake Tahoe. On August 3, the Russian national revealed his true reason for meeting up, saying he worked for a “group” that specializes in exhorting companies.

Initially, Kriuchkov offered to pay the employee $500,000 via Bitcoin or cash, but later agreed to raise the sum to $1 mln after the employee remained reluctant to take part in the scheme. However, as the complaint suggests, the employee ended up secretly working with the FBI.

“Kriuchkov entered the United States using his Russian passport and a tourist visa. He contacted and met with the employee numerous times to discuss the conspiracy. Kriuchkov promised to pay the employee $1 million after the malware was introduced. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Kriuchkov provided the employee with a burner phone, and instructed him to leave the burner phone in airplane mode until after the money was transferred,” the DoJ said.

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