In this article, it turns out to be the first name (in Latin script, anyway) of a convicted cybercriminal called Glib Oleksandr Ivanov-Tolpintsev.

Originally from Ukraine, Tolpintsev, who is now 28, was arrested in Poland late in 2020.

He was extradited to the US the following year, first appearing in a Florida court on 07 September 2021, charged with “trafficking in unauthorized access devices, and trafficking in computer passwords.”

In plain English, Tolpintsev was accused of operating what’s known as a botnet (short for robot network), which refers to a collection of other people’s computers that a cybercriminal can control remotely at will.

A botnet acts as a network of zombie computers ready to download instructions and carry them out without the permission, or even the knowledge, of their legitimate owners.

Tolpintsev was also accused of using that botnet to crack passwords that he then sold on the dark web.

What to do?

Tolpintsev’s ill-gotten gains, at just over $80,000, may sound modest compared to the multi-million dollar ransoms demanded by some ransomware criminals.

But the figure of $82,648 is just what the DOJ was able to show he’d earned from his online password sales, and ransomware criminals were probably amongst his customers anyway.

So, don’t forget the following:

  • Pick proper passwords. For accounts that require a conventional username and password, choose wisely, or get a password manager to do it for you. Most password crackers use password lists that put the most likely and the easiest-to-type passwords at the top. These list generators use a variety of password construction rules in an effort to generate human-like “random” choices such as jemima-1985 (name and year of birth) ahead of passwords that a computer might have selected, such as dexndb-8793. Stolen password hashes that were stored with a slow-to-test algorithm such as PBKDF2 or bcrypt can slow an attacker down to trying just a few passwords a second, even with a large botnet of cracking computers. But if your password is one of the first few that gets tried, you’ll be one of the first few to get compromised.
  • Use 2FA if you can. 2FA, short for two-factor authentication, usually requires you to provide a one-time code when you login, as well as your password. The code is typically generated by an app on your phone, or sent in a text message, and is different every time. Other forms of 2FA include biometric, for example requiring you to scan a fingerprint, or cryptographic, such as requiring you to sign a random message with a private cryptographic key (a key that might be securely stored in a USB device or a smartcard, itself protected by a PIN). 2FA doen’t eliminate the risk of crooks breaking into your network, but it makes individual cracked or stolen passwords much less useful on their own.
  • Never re-use passwords. A good password manager will not only generated wacky, random passwords for you, it will prevent you from using the same password twice. Remember that the crooks don’t have to crack your Windows password or your FileVault password if it’s the same as (or similar to) the password you used on your local sports club website that just got hacked-and-cracked.
  • Never ignore malware, even on computers you don’t care about yourself. This story is a clear reminder that, when it comes to malware, an injury to one really is an injury to all. As Glib Oleksandr Ivanov-Tolpintsev showed, not all cybercriminals will use zombie malware on your computer directly against you – instead, they use your infected computer to help them attack other people.

The Darkest Web

The Darkest Web (Allison Barton Book 2) by [Kristin Wright]

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