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Russia Arrests 50 Hackers in $45 Million Bank Heist Operation

Russian police have arrested 50 members of an alleged criminal hacking ring that stole more than 3 billion rubles ($45 million) from client accounts at the nation’s top banks.

According to the Interior Ministry it worked with Russia’s KGB successor, the drably named Federal Security Service, and with units of the new National Guard to carry out the sting. The joint operation included 86 searches conducted in 15 regions around the Russian Federation.

The task force confiscated a large amount of computer equipment, electronic storage, SIM cards, bank cards, stamps and legal documents, issued on official bank letterhead. After examining the evidence, it became clear that the suspects carried out 18 targeted attacks since the middle of 2015, the ministry alleged.

The heists were carried out with botnets; the ring created networks of infected computers to attack banks and state entities to set up fake wire transfers to steal money. The individual banks weren’t identified.

As a result of the investigation, police were able to block a series of fake money orders, preventing another 2.3 billion rubles in losses, the Ministry said.

"As far as I know, this is the largest ever arrest of hackers in Russia," Ruslan Stoyanov, head of computer incidents investigation at Kaspersky Lab, told Bloomberg. Kaspersky helped to identify the hackers and collect evidence. "Russia is tightening its grip on financial hacking.”

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