NEW YORK (AP) — Three men were in custody Wednesday on charges that they spread a computer virus to more than 1 million computers worldwide, including at least 40,000 in the United States, siphoning out passwords and online banking information that allowed hackers to steal tens of millions of dollars.
Their arrests were announced as federal authorities unsealed documents in Manhattan federal court accusing the men of participating in a conspiracy that began in 2005 and continued through much of last year. NASA computers were among those infected by what was labeled the Gozi virus.
The NASA breach occurred from Dec. 14, 2007, to Aug. 9, 2012, when about 190 agency computers were infected with the virus, according to court documents. Between May and August last year, they said, the infected computers sent data without the user's authorization, including login credentials for an eBay account and a NASA email account, details of visited websites and the contents of Google chat messages.
Other destructive viruses and malicious software, including Zeus Trojan, SpyEye and BlackEnergy, were distributed through the network, according to a criminal complaint filed against Mihai Ionut Paunescu, also known as “Virus.”
Paunescu is a Romanian national residing in Bucharest. According to court papers, Romanian organized crime investigators have been conducting their own probe of him that included court-authorized surveillance of his cellphone communications over the last year.
Paunescu was arrested in Romania. Deniss Calovskis was arrested in Latvia, where he is a citizen and resident, on charges including bank fraud conspiracy. Nikita Kuzmin, a Russian national, was arrested in New York on various charges