Russian Arrested for Recruiting Employee of U.S. Company to Plant Malware


A Russian national was arrested in the United States after attempting to convince an employee at a targeted company to deploy a piece of malware.

The man, Egor Igorevich Kriuchkov, 27, was arrested on August 22 and appeared in court on Monday. He promised $1 million to the employee and was allegedly planning to flee the United States after being contacted by the FBI.

Kriuchkov, a criminal complaint and statements made in court reveal, conspired with others to recruit an employee at an unnamed company in Nevada, to convince them to install malware onto the organization’s network, in exchange for $500,000.

He arrived in the United States on July 28 on a tourist visa, after having previously contacted the employee to inform them of his arrival, but only revealed his true intentions several days after arriving in Nevada. Kriuchkov told the employee he was part of a group that installed malware onto corporate networks to exfiltrate data and then extort the victim organizations, threatening to expose the data publicly unless a ransom was paid.

The defendant told the employee that the previous victim organizations had paid millions of dollars to ensure their data was not leaked on the Internet, and promised to pay them $1 million after the employee remained reluctant to participating in the scheme.

Kriuchkov told the employee that the malware would provide him and his co-conspirators with access to the organization’s internal systems, allowing them to extract data from the network and use that data to extort money from the company.

The cybercriminals were allegedly also planning on launching a DDoS attack to divert attention from the malware.

Kriuchkov provided the employee with a burner phone, instructed them to use the Tor Browser to set up a Bitcoin wallet to receive payment, and told them to leave the burner phone in airplane mode until being notified that the money was transferred.

The FBI physically witnessed some of the meetings between Kriuchkov and the employee, the criminal complaint reveals.

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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