Downfall of Russian Cybercriminal Empire brought about by an easy to guess password

Norman Barbosa, Assistant U.S. Attorney along with Harold Chun DOJ trial attorney recounts just how the Russian hacker in the name of Roman Seleznev was tracked down by U.S. DOJ.

Roman Seleznev was immediately declared the primary suspect as federal authorities found hard evidences as they searched through the convicts’ laptop which contained incriminating information as told by U.S. DOJ over at Black Hat last Wednesday.

Seleznev was followed in Maldives by law enforcements while having his vacation in 2014. Attorney Harold Chun stated in the trial that “law enforcement was able to grab his laptop, his iPhone, his passport, [and] his travel documents”. And after that, he also added “and what these things did was confirm all of the attribution that had been gleaned throughout the investigation year and year.”

In their review of the seized evidences, law enforcements noticed that Seleznev’s email had repeated used the word “Ochko” which in Russian means “butthole.”

Having to access the hackers’ password-protected computer, the investigators were successfully able to access Seleznev’s files by using the password “Ochko123”. Among those that investigators found in the laptop were details for 1.7 M credit card account numbers that were stolen and a few webpages providing readers information on how to use credit cards that are stolen. Chun said in the interview “This is basically, more or less, a slam dunk” seeing that the files weren’t even encrypted and was very easy to obtain.

During his trial, Seleznev’z made an effort to pass the blame to an actor or a U.S. government individual that used his laptop to frame him. Unfortunately, Chun was able to disprove such theory as computer forensics and experts proved that the last log in on the computer was from the Wi-Fi network coming from the very resort where Seleznev was stating for his vacation.

Seleznev was found guilty of 38 counts hacking and credit card theft crimes and sentenced with 27 years’ imprisonment last April 2017. He stole more than $169 million according to DOJ reports.

This story has important significance for businesses with little to no protection for executive level hardware. Rogue groups have just as much not if more technology at their disposal to hack into executive computers and devices. IT departments can turn to computer forensics experts at Flashback Data for help with this issue.