Three Estonians have been sentenced to a cumulative 11 years for their cybercrime activities which infected more than four million computers with malware across more than 100 countries.
The three crims, who were sent down by US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan on Thursday, were: Timur Gerassimenko, 35, who received a four-year sentence and was ordered to forfeit $2.5m; Dmitiri Jegorov, 37, who received a 44 month sentence and must forfeit $1m; and Konstantin Poltev, 31, who was sentenced to 40 months' imprisonment and to forfeit $1m.
The trio were charged as part of a party of seven in 2011. That comprised six Estonians and one Russian.
At least 500,000 of the infected computers were in the US, including computers belonging to US government agencies, including NASA.
The defendants' malware secretly altered the settings on infected computers, allowing them to digitally hijack net searches and re-route computers to certain websites and advertisements — thus earning revenue for the cybercriminals.
Prosecutors said the gang earned $14m through its activities.
The gang ran a scheme of click hijacking and ad replacement fraud, the latter of which used the DNS Changer Malware and rogue DNS servers to substitute advertisements which were triggered to provide payments to the gang.
The original indictment further alleged that the gang laundered the proceeds of their scheme through numerous companies including, among others, Rove Digital, an Estonian corporation.
As the malware prevented the installation of anti-virus software and operating system updates on infected computers, those computers and their users were exposed to additional attacks by other viruses – causing, in the case of NASA, more than $65,000 in damages.
Following the trio's sentencing this week, only one Estonian member of the gang, Vladimir Tsastsin, remains to be sentenced. Tsastsin entered a guilty plea earlier this month.
Of the other members of the alleged gang, Valeri Aleksejev was sentenced to 48 months in prison, while Anton Ivanov pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to time served.
The last defendant, Andrey Taame, who is a Russian national, remains at large, and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. ®