Belarus Arrests Suspected Ringleader of Global Cyber Crime Network

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A Belarus citizen described as a “prolific” cyber criminal has been arrested in a joint operation involving Belarus, Germany, and the United States.

Reuters, along with a Swedish-American cyber security firm, has identified the suspect as Sergei Yarets, who lives near Gomel, the second largest city in Belarus. Yarets is accused of selling malicious software known as Andromeda, one of the longest running malware families in existence.

The Andromeda malware is made up of botnets, which are networks of infected computers under the control of cybercriminals that allows them to steal sensitive information from the infected computers. They can also be used to perform cyberattacks on other computer systems.

The shutdown of the Andromeda botnet, announced on Monday, was engineered by a taskforce coordinated by Europol which included several European law enforcement agencies, the FBI, the German Federal Office for Information Security and agencies from Australia, Belarus, Canada, Montenegro, Singapore and Taiwan.

The police operation, which involved help from Microsoft and ESET, a Slovakian cyber security firm, was significant both for the number of computers infected worldwidew and because Andromeda had been used over a number of years to distribute scores of new viruses.

Belarus authorities said the man they arrested charged other criminals $500 for each copy of Andromeda he sold to mount online attacks, and $10 for subsequent software updates.

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