A Russian national has appeared in federal court in Newark after being extradited from the Netherlands to face charges that he conspired in the largest international hacking and data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.
Vladimir Drinkman, 34, of Syktyykar and Moscow, Russia, was charged for his alleged role in a data theft conspiracy that targeted major corporate networks, stole more than 160 million credit card numbers, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. He had been fighting his extradition for two years since his arrest in the Netherlands on 28 June, 2012.
Drinkman and four Russian co-defendants are charged with attacks on Nasdaq, 7-Eleven, Carrefour, JCP, Hannaford, Heartland, Wet Seal, Commidea, Dexia, JetBlue, Dow Jones, Euronet, Visa Jordan, Global Payment, Diners Singapore and Ingenicard.
Drinkman has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which allege that he and his co-conspirators stole at least 160 million card numbers through hacking.
The hackers allegedly identified vulnerabilities in SQL databases to infiltrate corporate networks and place malicious code on the system.
Instant message chats obtained by law enforcement reveal that the defendants allegedly targeted the victim companies for many months, waiting patiently as their efforts to bypass security were underway, sometimes leaving malware implanted for more than a year.
The defendants allegedly used their access to the networks to install 'sniffers' to identify, collect and steal data from the victims’ computer networks. The defendants then allegedly used an array of computers located around the world to store the stolen data and ultimately sell it to others.
As a result of the scheme, financial institutions, credit card companies and consumers suffered hundreds of millions in losses — including more than $300 million in losses reported by just three of the corporate victims.