Chinese Hacker Arrested in Takedown of World’s Largest Botnet

An international law enforcement team has reportedly apprehended a Chinese hacker accused of running a massive botnet for nearly a decade, amassing at least $99 million in profits by selling access to cybercriminals.

Fortune reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has announced the arrest of Yunhe Wang, 35, on May 24, in connection with the operation of the “911 S5” botnet, which FBI Director Christopher Wray described as likely the world’s largest. The botnet, a network of malware-infected computers spanning nearly 200 countries, has been linked to various criminal activities, including identity theft, child exploitation, and financial fraud, such as pandemic relief scams.

According to an indictment filed in Texas’ eastern district, the cybercriminals who purchased access to the botnet from Wang have stolen billions of dollars from financial institutions, credit card issuers, accountholders, and federal lending programs since 2014. The botnet, comprising 19 million hijacked Windows computers, with more than 613,000 in the United States alone, allowed criminals to commit a wide range of crimes that victimized children, threatened public safety, and defrauded financial institutions and federal lending programs, as stated by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The financial impact of the botnet’s activities is staggering, with criminals who bought access to the zombie network being responsible for an estimated $5.9 billion in losses due to fraud against relief programs. Officials also reported that approximately 560,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims originated from compromised IP addresses associated with the botnet.

Wang allegedly managed the botnet through 150 dedicated servers, with half of them leased from U.S.-based online service providers. The indictment reveals that Wang used his illicit gains to acquire 21 properties across the United States, China, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and St. Kitts and Nevis, where he obtained citizenship through investment.

Read more at Fortune here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.

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