New Threat Research: Uncovering Adversarial LDAP Tradecraft

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Russian Hacker Convicted of $90 Million Hack-to-Trade Charges

A Russian businessman was convicted today by a federal jury in Boston for his involvement in an elaborate scheme that netted $90 million through securities trades based on non-public information stolen from U.S. computer networks. Vladislav Klyushin, a/k/a “Vladislav Kliushin,” 42, of Moscow, Russia, was convicted following a 10-day jury trial of conspiring to obtain unauthorized access to computers, and to commit wire fraud and to commit securities fraud, and with substantive counts of obtaining unauthorized access to computers, wire fraud and securities fraud. Klyushin was arrested in Sion, Switzerland in March 2021 and extradited to the United States in December 2021 to face federal charges in Boston. Klyushin was charged along with two Russian co-conspirators: Ivan Ermakov and Nikolai Rumiantcev. Two others, Mikhail Vladimirovich Irzak and Igor Sergeevich Sladkov, were charged in a separate indictment. All four co-conspirators remain at large. Klyushin, Ermakov and Rumiantcev worked at M-13, a Moscow-based information technology company that Klyushin owns. M-13 offered penetration testing and “Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) emulation,” – both services that seek exploitable vulnerabilities in a computer system via hacking techniques, purportedly for defensive purposes. M-13’s website indicated that the company’s “IT solutions” were used by “the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation, federal ministries and departments, regional state executive bodies, commercial companies and public organizations.” In addition to these services, Klyushin invested the money of several investors in his hack-to-trade scheme, and took a 60 percent cut of their profits. In total, Klyushin and his co-conspirators earned close to $100 million in earnings trading from roughly $9 million in investments using inside information, even as they lost close to $10 million in non-earnings trading – representing a return of more than 900 percent during a period in which the broader stock market returned just over 25 percent. Of that amount, Klyushin individually netted more than $38 million, including nearly $23 million on his personal trading and trading for his company, in addition to more than $13 million on the money he invested for others.

Analyst Notes

Global joint law enforcement cooperation has been the key to taking down cyber criminals. Often operating out of several countries, threat actors are being exposed more and more due global cooperation among law enforcement. The director of the FBI stated in August 2022, that cyber threat actors have become a top priority for the FBI and other law enforcement partners. The director stated cooperation was the key to success, “We must impose consequences on cyber adversaries and use our collective law enforcement and intelligence capabilities to do so through joint and enabled operations sequenced for maximum impact. And we must continue to work with the Department of State and other key agencies to ensure that our foreign partners are able and willing to cooperate in our efforts to bring the perpetrators of cybercrime to justice or otherwise disrupt such perpetrators’ activities.” In its press release the Department of Justice thanked the Swiss Federal Office of Justice, and the Valais and Zurich Cantonal Police authorities, for providing valuable assistance to the investigation.