cyber security
Maxim Senakh worked with co-conspirators to install the Ebury malware on tens of thousands of computers globally iStock

A Russian man has been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison over his participation in a "global botnet conspiracy". The US Justice Department announced on Thursday (3 August) that 41-year-old Maxim Senakh of Veliky Novgorod, Russia, was sentenced to 46 months in prison for working with his associates to install malware on tens of thousands of computer servers across the globe to generate millions of dollars in fraudulent payments.

Senakh was indicted in January 2015 and was arrested by Finnish authorities before he was extradited to the US in February 2016 to face charges. In March, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

"The defendant and his co-conspirators sought to turn a network of thousands of infected computers in the United States and around the world into their personal cash machines," acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco said in a statement. "But cybercriminals like Mr. Senakh should take heed: they are not immune from U.S. prosecution just because they operate from afar or behind a veil of technology."

The Ebury malware deployed by Senakh and his co-conspirators infected computer servers to harvest login credentials, allowing them to create and operate a massive botnet by ensnaring thousands of servers worldwide, including thousands within the US. The botnet was used to generate and redirect traffic in various click-fraud and spam email schemes to generate millions in revenue.

Senakh also admitted to creating accounts with domain registrars to help develop the Ebury botnet's infrastructure and personally profited from the scheme.

"Working within a massive criminal enterprise, Maxim Senakh helped create a sophisticated infrastructure that victimized thousands of Internet users across the world," acting US Attorney Gregory Brooker of the District of Minnesota said. "As society becomes more reliant on computers, cybercriminals like Senakh pose a serious threat."

"This office, along with our law enforcement partners, are committed to detecting and prosecuting cybercriminals no matter where they reside,"

Senakh will be deported back to Russia following his release from prison.