Twenty years in prison for hackers/founders of Mariposa botnet and Bitcoin platform NiceHash

According to digital forensics specialists, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is trying to charge some hackers, including the founder of NiceHash cryptocurrency platform, for a supposed conspiracy to distribute malware through Darkode, one of the main hacking forums on dark web.

Agency officials say that Darkode is a criminal group powered by an online forum that can only be accessed through a password. The FBI mentions that only advanced knowledge hackers can access this forum to buy, sell or share sophisticated hacking tools or confidential information.

Florencio Carro Ruiz, Thomas McCormack and Matjaz Skorjanc, Spain, the U.S. and Slovenia nationals respectively, have been charged with crimes such as extortion, conspiracy to commit fraud and bank fraud. Matjaz Skorjanc is the creator of the cryptocurrency market NiceHash, also the alleged responsible for the creation of a malware that infected more than one million machines to integrate them into the massive botnet known as Mariposa, report experts in digital forensics.

Detected in 2008, Mariposa botnet was a massive network used mainly in DDoS attacks and bank scams; before being dismantled it registered more than 12 million unique IP addresses, making it one of the largest known botnets.

The U.S. authorities claim that Skorjanc and his accomplices are marketing a malware capable of propagating instantly to other compromised devices to steal login credentials, access passwords to mobile banking and even deployment of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

After the U.S. federal authorities managed to dismantle the botnet Mariposa, Skorjanc was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, ending his sentence less than two years ago, at the end of 2017.

In case of being found guilty of these new charges, each defendant faces a sentence of up to twenty years for conspiracy to commit fraud, and up to 30 years in prison for bank fraud.

According to digital forensics specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) although the FBI has already managed to arrest Thomas McCormack, the agency’s main objective is still to catch Skorjanc.