US files charges against Russian programmer suspected of cyber attacks during elections

US files charges against Russian programmer suspected of cyber attacks during elections
Pyotr Levashov went on holiday to Spain but was detained on the US request

The US law enforcers are confident that 36-year-old Pyotr Levashov is the legendary hacker Peter Severa, who created the botnet Kelihos and is included in the TOP-10 world spammers according to Spamhaus.

The US supervisory agency brought charges on 8 counts against Russian programmer Pyotr Levashov, detained on April 7 in Barcelona.

According to Interfax, the 36-year-old St. Petersburg native is suspected of involvement in cyber attacks on the US during the presidential elections.

As reported by the Connecticut Procuratorate, according to the investigation, Pyotr Levashov (also known as Peter Severa and Sergey Astakhov) would organize and conduct numerous cyber attacks, managing a global network of tens of thousands of infected computers. The US law enforcers believe that the Russian hacker used the network to collect data, send mass spam, and install malware through phishing.

It is worth noting that the programmer is currently in custody in Spain, where he and his wife have arrived on vacation. The 40 days, during which the US must provide evidence of Levashov's involvement in hacking attacks against the Americans to Spain, expire on May 17. The request for Levashov's extradition to the United States has already been sent to Spanish law enforcement agencies.

Earlier, the US Department of Justice stated the reason for the arrest of Levashov. In a statement published on the department’s official website, Levashov was named the creator of the Kelihos botnet, also known as Hlux; it is a global network of tens of thousands of virus-infected computers, through which cyber-fraudsters steal passwords and logins from Internet banks and install malicious software.

Experts on cyber threats estimate the coverage of Kelihos in 40 thousand computers. According to the US Justice Department, Levashov has been running it since 2010. The Swiss-British nonprofit organization Spamhaus has included a hacker with the nickname Peter Severa in the TOP-10 most dangerous spammers in the world.

Tags: Extradition
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