Slavic, the most wanted (and protected) hacker in the world

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CYBER SPIONING
Slavic, the most wanted (and protected) hacker in the world
Linked to the most serious cyber attacks against the United States, he is supposedly living under Moscow

Shaved hair, deep dark circles and the smile of someone who does not pose very convinced for the photo. Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev has plundered dozens of banks, stole thousands of checking accounts and launched assaults on a global scale. The FBI offers a reward of three million dollars (9.3 million reais) for his capture, and two US courts prosecute him for fraud, money laundering, hacking and conspiracy. Better known as Slavic or lucky12345, he is the most wanted hacker in the world. But nobody stops him. The several known photos are of no use. Not even knowing where he lives and what he does in his free time. At 33, Bogachev and his half smile can do more than the judicial and police structure of the most powerful nation in the world.

Slavic is hiding in Russia, and last December he was included in the group sanctioned by then President Barack Obama in connection with the Kremlin-orchestrated cyberattack to undermine Hillary Clinton's election campaign. Although the White House only referred to him as a common thug, the order, which also affected four senior Russian secret service officials, prohibited him from traveling to the United States and froze all of his accounts. Two measures without effect for those who made history outside the law.

The FBI reports and court records to which EL PAÍS had access reveal Slavic as one of the most incisive hackers of all time. He created Cryptolocker, a virus that blocks computers and forces a ransom payment to be released. By the end of 2013, more than 234,000 computers had been infected. A coup with which Bogachev raised 27 million dollars (83.7 million reais) in just two months.

But his most known and revered creature is Zeus. Extremely sophisticated, this malicious code was born in 2006, when Bogachev was only 22 years old. Since then, with enormous skill, he modified and improved it until he reached the Gameover version. Considered one of the most dangerous on the planet, the program works on two fronts. On the one hand, it steals bank details and passwords from the machine it infects; on the other hand, without the owner knowing, he puts the device at the service of a hidden network (botnet). Thus, it produces a universe of silent slaves that pirates freely use for all kinds of purposes.

"It is the most advanced network of malicious programs we have ever faced," said the special agent in charge of the investigation. Under the command of Slavic, this structure came to submit one million computers (25% of them in the USA) and became the worst nightmare the FBI has ever experienced. The trophy exceeded 100 million dollars (310 million reais).

“All the computers he infected were part of a botnet, in which not only did they steal the data that users entered or had recorded, but they also used the power of these thousands - or even millions - of infected and controlled computers to commit other crimes, as denial of service (DDoS) attacks designed to extort companies, ”says expert David Barroso, founder of Countercraft.

The Kremlin, which for years denies, has been employing cyberpirates for its geopolitical purposes

After a joint international effort, the network was dismantled in 2014. But its creator, on whom weighs the greatest reward ever offered to a cybercriminal, was not arrested. Like many Russian hackers, their tranquility was guaranteed far from Washington.

A Ukrainian security report indicates that Slavic acts under the supervision of a special Russian espionage unit. It is nothing extraordinary. The Kremlin, which never accepted such accusations, has been employing cyberpirates for its geopolitical purposes for years. He also did this, always according to US intelligence reports, with Wikileaks. In the cyber attack he orchestrated against Clinton in the election campaign, he used Julian Assange's organization to spread stolen material. In the case of Slavic, the Zeus virus's own trajectory and evolution links it to these practices. At the height of his activity, Bogachev scanned the immense network of captive computers at his disposal for confidential information: e-mails from senior Turkish police officials, intelligence data from Georgia, classified documents from Ukraine. “Bogachev has long been considered to have some kind of relationship with people close to the intelligence services. Even when Russia invaded Crimea, part of the dnet was used to seek information from victims in Ukraine, ”explains Jaime Blasco, a cybersecurity expert and scientific head of Alien Vault.

Slavic was and is a pirate, but he doesn't just act like one. Its objective goes further: a swampy territory of which little is known. The Kremlin remains silent, and US officials are shying away from giving details about the cyber attacks to Clinton. As always, darkness holds. Slavic can keep smiling.

Married and with a daughter, Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, codenamed Slavic enjoys life as a king in the small port city of Anapa, in the Western Caucasus. There, according to police reports, he collects luxury cars, navigates the Black Sea and, when he can, visits Crimea. Slavic has a love for cats. So much so that your pet is a cane cat (the result of the cross between the domestic cat and the leopard cat) and your favorite outfit is leopard print pajamas.

According to Ukrainian intelligence, Slavic has a fleet of cars spread across Europe just so he doesn't have to rent a vehicle when he's on vacation. The hacker used to spend a few days in one of the cottages he owned in France and traveled with one of the three Russian passports that he had to travel freely.

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