(NEW YORK) — One of the alleged masterminds behind what has been called “one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history” is expected to appear Friday afternoon in a New York federal courtroom.
Deniss Calovskis, a Latvian national, was arrested in November 2012 for his alleged role in writing some of the code that allowed the Gozi virus to be so effective. The malicious code infected at least 40,000 computers in the U.S., including NASA computers, and was allegedly used to steal tens of millions of dollars from bank accounts around the world, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Calovskis’ appearance in court comes as he has been in plea talks with the government, according to his attorney. Calovskis allegedly wrote the code that tricked victims into divulging personal information.
The malicious code, described as “one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history,” was first discovered by American cyber-security experts in 2007, but New York prosecutors said the criminal operation continued until March 2012.
Gozi spread to the U.S. no later than 2010 and eventually infected 160 computers belonging to NASA, according to court documents. In total, the scheme “caused tens of millions of dollars in losses and affected well over one million computers,” court papers noted.
One method for infecting victims was to disguise the virus as a PDF document, which when opened, would install the virus on the target’s computer while remaining undetectable by anti-virus software, according to the Department of Justice. The virus would then collect personal data from the computer, including bank account information, which was then used to transfer funds from the victims and ultimately into accounts the hackers could access, the Department of Justice said.
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