A Russian national pleaded guilty Wednesday to computer crime, fraud, conspiracy and identity theft charges for operating the Kelihos botnet.
Peter Yuryevich Levashov, 38, aka “Petr Levashov,” “Peter Severa,” “Petr Severa” and “Sergey Astakhov,” operated several botnets between the late 1990s and April 2017, when he was arrested, police said.
The Storm and Waledac botnets, which share source code with Kelihos, have also been attributed to Levashov.
Levashov’s malware had infected hundreds of thousands of computers, allowing him and other cybercriminals who rented the botnets to send spam and steal valuable information from compromised devices. Authorities said the man also took part in operating various cybercrime forums.
The Kelihos, Storm and Waledac botnets reportedly generated hundreds of millions of dollars for cybercriminals. Data leaked in 2010 after hackers broke into the systems of a pharmacy spam program showed Levashov pulled in nearly $600,000 over a 3-year period.
Levashov was indicted in the United States on April 20, just days after his arrest in Spain. He was extradited to the United States in February.
Levashov pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut, to one count of causing intentional damage to a protected computer, one count of conspiracy, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of wire fraud.
His sentencing has been scheduled for September 6, 2019, and he will remain in custody until then.
“For years, Mr. Levashov lived quite comfortably while his criminal behavior disrupted the lives of thousands of computer users,” said U.S. Attorney John H. Durham of the District of Connecticut. “Thanks to the collaborative work of the FBI and our partners in law enforcement, private industry and academia, a prolific cybercriminal has been neutralized, and has now admitted his guilt in a U.S. courtroom.”