Pavel Vrublevsky, the head of a prominent Russian payment-processing company, ChronoPay, was arrested in Russia on suspicion of hiring someone to launch a denial-of-service attack against one of his company’s main competitors. The arrest is the latest in a series of high-profile actions against people and groups around the world suspected of being involved in the global cybercrime ecosystem.
Vrublevsky is the founder and main shareholder of ChronoPay, which is said to be the largest payment processor in Russia. The company is based in Moscow, but also has offices in the Netherlands and Latvia, and news services in Russia have reported that Vrublevsky was arrested Thursday as he returned from vacation. He is suspected of hiring an attacker to target another payment processor called Assist with a DDoS attack in an effort to gain the upper hand in the competition for a contract with Russian airline Aeroflot.
The arrest of Vrublevsky comes a few days after the FBI and authorities in more than 10 other countries worked together to disrupt a major scareware operation, leading to the arrest of two Latvian suspects. Authorities say that the two scams that the suspects were allegedly involved with resulted in losses of more than $72 million for victims over the years.
Security researchers and officials involved in the operations against botnet operators, scareware gangs and other groups involved in cybercrime say that they are pleased with the recent progress and that they have high expectations for more operations like these in the near future. There have been a number of botnet takedowns in the last year or so that have helped reduce the levels of spam–at least temporarily–by quite a lot, specifically the disruption of the Rustock botnet.
Such takedowns and arrests still are comparatively rare given the scale and scope of the global cybercrime problem. But, because much of the ecosystem is interconnected and many of the major players rely on one another for help and specialized skills, even small actions can have wide-ranging and prolonged effects.