Security

Russian man who helped develop Citadel malware gets 5 years

The malware stole personal financial information, causing more than $500 million in losses.

Bank card on keyboard

Citadel malware stole victims' financial credentials by monitoring and recording victims' keystrokes, a tactic known as keylogging.

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A Russian man who prosecutors say helped develop and distribute malware designed to steal personal financial information was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison.

Mark Vartanyan, also known as "Kolypto," was sentenced by US District Court Judge Mark Cohen in Atlanta after pleading guilty in March to computer fraud, federal prosecutors said. Vartanyan received two years of credit for time served, including more than two years in custody in Norway following his arrest there in October 2014, the Associated Press reported.

Between 2012 and 2014, Vartanyan helped to develop, improve and maintain Citadel, which was offered for sale on invite-only, Russian-language internet forums frequented by cybercriminals. Prosecutors estimate the malware infected about 11 million computers worldwide and caused more than $500 million in losses.

Citadel malware monitored and recorded victims' keystrokes, a tactic known as keylogging. When users accessed their bank accounts online, the criminals were able to swipe the information needed to access accounts, and learn details about personal identities. What's more, Citadel blocked access to anti-virus sites, preventing users from removing the malware.

The sentence was the result of a plea deal based on remorse shown by Vartanyan and his help in aiding the government's investigation.

"I have rarely come across an individual who has been as sorry for his role as Mark Vartanyan," federal prosecutor Steven Grimberg told the judge.

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