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Ukrainian Cybercriminal Sentenced to Prison in U.S.

Hacker Who Tried to Get Revenge on Brian Krebs for Exposing Him Sentenced to Prison

The Ukrainian cybercriminal who attempted to get revenge on security blogger Brian Krebs for exposing him has been sentenced by a U.S. court to 41 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $83,000 in restitution.

Sergey Vovnenko, aged 31, was also known as “Sergey Vovnencko,” “Tomas Rimkis,” “Flycracker,” “Flyck,” “Fly,” “Centurion,” “MUXACC1,” “Stranier” and “Darklife.” He was arrested in Italy in June 2014, where he spent the next 15 months trying to fight his extradition to the United States.

In January 2016, after being extradited to the U.S., Vovnenko admitted stealing login credentials and payment card data as part of an international hacking conspiracy, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

According to authorities, Vovnenko was an administrator on two cybercrime forums. Between September 2010 and August 2012, he and his co-conspirators infected at least 13,000 computers with the Zeus banking Trojan in order to steal valuable information.

Investigative journalist Brian Krebs started monitoring Vovnenko in 2013, and he soon managed to find his real identity. In an effort to get revenge on Krebs, the Ukrainian had requested donations from other fraudsters to purchase heroin from Silk Road and have it delivered to the blogger.

The plan was to spoof a call from one of Krebs’ neighbors to local police and get him arrested for drug possession. However, the journalist had infiltrated Vovnenko’s forum and alerted the police before the drugs arrived.

Krebs believes the hacker’s “antics” likely contributed to his arrest and guilty plea. The blogger said Vovnenko apparently turned his life around while in prison in Italy.

Vovnenko is not the only hacker who targeted Krebs and was sentenced last week. Eric Taylor, known online as UG Nazi member “Cosmo the God,” has been sentenced to three years probation for running Exposed.su, a website that leaked private information on several high-profile individuals.

Krebs was swatted by Taylor and others following his coverage of Exposed.su. Another member of the conspiracy, Mir Islam, was sentenced in June 2016 to two years in prison.

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.