Microsoft Names Alleged Kelihos Botnet Operator

Suspect worked for antivirus and software development firms in Russia.



Microsoft is continuing its legal tear against botnets: It has now named the alleged botnet operator of the Kelihos botnet that it helped take down last fall.

The alleged perpetrator, Andrey N. Sabelnikov, a Russian engineer, has been added to Microsoft's legal suit filed in U.S. District Court in September in relation to the botnet. The company, which worked with Kaspersky Lab and Kyrus to take down the spamming botnet, says the initial claim's named co-defendants in Microsoft's civil lawsuit, Dominique Alexander Piatti and dotFREE Group SRO, cooperated and provided information that led to the latest legal action against Sabelnikov as part of a settlement in October.

"In today's complaint, Microsoft presented evidence to the court that Mr. Sabelnikov wrote the code for and either created, or participated in creating, the Kelihos malware. Further, the complaint alleges that he used the malware to control, operate, maintain, and grow the Kelihos botnet. These allegations are based on evidence Microsoft investigators uncovered while analyzing the Kelihos malware," said Richard Domingues Boscovich, senior attorney for Microsoft's digital crimes unit. "Microsoft also alleges that Mr. Sabelnikov registered more than 3,700 'cz.cc' subdomains from Mr. Piatti and dotFREE Group SRO, and misused those subdomains to operate and control the Kelihos botnet."

Microsoft says Sabelnikov lives in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is a contractor for a software development and consulting firm who once worked as a software engineer and project manager at a firewall and antivirus firm. According to KrebsOnSecurity, that firm was Agnitum.

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