Written by Sean Lyngaas
U.S. prosecutors have charged a 55-year-old Latvian national with developing computer code used in tandem with the infamous malware known as TrickBot, which defrauded countless people while infecting tens of millions of people. computers around the world.
The defendant, known as Alla Witte, was arraigned in federal court in Cleveland on Friday after being arrested in Miami in February, the Justice Department said. She is accused of being part of a criminal organization that operated in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Suriname, and which infected computers in hospitals, schools, public services and government agencies in the United States. United.
Witte wrote “the code related to the control, deployment and payments of ransomware” the justice ministry said in a press release. She also allegedly provided computer code to other members of the criminal group who tracked users of the TrickBot malware. The malicious code was designed to steal bank login credentials, credit card numbers, and other sensitive personal data that can be used for fraud.
Witte is charged with 19 counts, including conspiracy to commit computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.
TrickBot has been one of the main hacking tools for crooks in recent years.
Cybercriminals used the malware to assemble a vast botnet, or army of compromised computers, to infect computers with ransomware. Concerned about the threat of ransomware ahead of the 2020 election, the US Cyber Command and tech companies sought to take some of TrickBot’s infrastructure offline, but the botnet survived.
In a statement released Friday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco hailed Witte’s indictment as an example of the “wide reach” of a new Justice Department task force to fight ransomware. After disruptions to major fuel and meat suppliers, ransomware has become one of the main national security concerns facing the Biden administration.
A lawyer for Witte could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday. She faces decades in prison if convicted on all counts.
You can read Witte’s full indictment online.