Daily Management Review

A Chinese Citizen Is Accused By The US DOJ Of Running The "Largest Botnet In The World," Which Stole $5.9 Billion In Covid Relief Payments


A Chinese Citizen Is Accused By The US DOJ Of Running The "Largest Botnet In The World," Which Stole $5.9 Billion In Covid Relief Payments
Officials from the Department of Justice said on Wednesday that a global malware network that stole $5.9 billion in Covid relief money and was linked to other crimes like child exploitation and bomb threats had been taken down.
YunHe Wang, a 35-year-old Chinese national, was detained by the DOJ on suspicion of developing the "botnet," a type of malware that links a network of compromised machines, enabling hackers to launch cyberattacks from a distance.
Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stated that it is "probably the largest botnet in history."
According to the indictment, Wang built and ran the "911 S5" botnet from 2014 to 2022 from over 150 servers across the globe, some of which were located in the United States.
According to the DOJ release, the botnet gained access to more than 19 million IP addresses across almost 200 nations. The indictment states that there were around 614,000 IP addresses in the United States.
The FBI published instructions on how consumers may determine whether or not their devices were the focus of a 911 S5 assault, and if so, how to get rid of the virus.
According to the DOJ release, Wang made at least $99 million by reportedly selling hackers access to the hacked IP addresses. He then allegedly used the money to purchase expensive automobiles, timepieces, and real estate all across the world.
According to the DOJ, 911 S5 was also used for additional crimes like fraud, harassment, stalking, and illicit commodities exports.
The botnet specifically targeted Covid aid programmes, taking $5.9 billion by filing an estimated 560,000 fictitious applications for unemployment insurance.
Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security remarked, "The conduct alleged here reads like it's ripped from a screenplay."
"The laborious efforts of both domestic and international law enforcement, in conjunction with industry partners, to foil such a blatant plot and effectuate an arrest such as this, are not depicted in the movies," Axelrod said.
In order to take down the botnet and apprehend Wang, the DOJ collaborated with the FBI and other foreign law enforcement organisations.
The Treasury Department penalised Wang and two other individuals for their suspected connection with 911 S5 the day before the arrest. Lily Suites Company Limited, Tulip Biz Pattaya Group Company Limited, and Spicy Code Company Limited—three businesses that Wang owned or controlled—were also subject to sanctions from the Treasury.
Wang is charged with four crimes, including conspiracy to conduct computer fraud, substantive computer fraud, conspiracy to engage wire fraud, and conspiracy to do money laundering. The maximum punishment for each of these offences is 65 years in prison.
The accusations coincide with efforts by US law enforcement to modernise procedures in order to meet more complex cybersecurity risks.
The United States has recently shown special alarm about hackers with Chinese support who want to compromise American infrastructure.
The Chinese hacker collective known as "Volt Typhoon" was taking down targets in the United States, including power grids and water plants, the FBI declared in January.
At a hearing in January, Wray stated, "Today, and literally every day, they're actively attacking our economic security, engaging in wholesale theft of our innovation, and our personal and corporate data."