The US government has charged a Latvian woman for her role in creating the Trickbot malware.
Alla Witte was charged in federal court in Cleveland with 19 counts of a 47-count indictment. The indictment accuses her of participating in a criminal organization referred to as the Trickbot Group, which used the Trickbot malware in cyberattacks. The group was located in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Suriname. Witte previously lived in Paramaribo, Suriname, and was arrested in Miami in February.
Officials allege that beginning in November 2015, Witte and others used Trickbot to steal money and confidential information from unsuspecting victims, including businesses and their financial institutions, in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Russia.
"Witte and her associates are accused of infecting tens of millions of computers worldwide, in an effort to steal financial information to ultimately siphon off millions of dollars through compromised computer systems," said Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith of the FBI's Cleveland Field Office, in a Justice Department release. "Cyber intrusions and malware infections take significant time, expertise, and investigative effort, but the FBI will ensure these hackers are held accountable, no matter where they reside or how anonymous they think they are."
According to the indictment, Witte worked as a malware developer for the Trickbot Group and wrote code related to the control, deployment, and payment of ransomware. She is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft; one count of conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud affecting a financial institution; eight counts of bank fraud affecting a financial institution; eight counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
If convicted, Witte faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft; 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud; 30 years in prison for each substantive bank fraud count; a two-year mandatory sentence for each aggravated identity theft count, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence; and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.
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