February 16, 2017 / 10:24 PM / 3 years ago

Ukrainian hacker sentenced in U.S. to 41 months in prison

(Reuters) - A Ukrainian who administered two online hacking forums was sentenced on Thursday to 41 months in prison for using more than 13,000 computers to steal log-in and credit card data, U.S. prosecutors said.

Sergey Vovnenko, whose aliases included “Flycracker” and “Darklife,” was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark, New Jersey, after pleading guilty last year to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

The sentence was confirmed by the office of U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey, which said Vovnenko was also ordered to pay $83,368 in restitution.

Vovnenko’s lawyer, Timothy Anderson, said he was pleased the sentence was not longer than what the judge imposed, adding that his client could be released in a few months if he receives credit for all 32 months he has already spent in custody.

“He has committed himself to not be involved in criminal activities anymore,” Anderson said.

Prosecutors said that from 2010 to 2012 Vovnenko, 31, engaged in a scheme to hack into computers belonging to individuals and companies, steal user names and passwords for bank accounts and other online services and steal debit and credit card numbers.

They said Vovnenko, most recently a resident of Naples, Italy, admitted to operating a “botnet” of more than 13,000 computers infected with malware to gain unauthorized access and used “Zeus” malware to steal banking information from and record keystrokes of people using infected computers.

Prosecutors said Vovnenko was an administrator of several online hacking forums and used his position to traffic in the data he stole.

Vovnenko fought extradition after he was detained by Italian authorities following his June 2014 arrest. He was extradited to the United States in October 2015.

At the time of the extradition, Brian Krebs, who runs the cybersecurity blog Krebs on Security, wrote that Vovnenko had been behind a 2013 plot to have heroin sent to Krebs’ Virginia home, and then tell police when the drugs arrived.

Krebs said he foiled the plot after he tracked Vovnenko’s online activities and alerted police.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York

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