Denis Emelyantsev, a 36-year-old Russian man accused of running a massive botnet called RSOCKS that stitched malware into millions of devices worldwide, pleaded guilty to two counts of computer crime violations in a California courtroom this week. The plea comes just months after Emelyantsev was extradited from Bulgaria, where he told investigators, “America is looking for me because I have enormous information and they need it.” A copy of the passport for Denis Emelyantsev, a.k.a. Denis Kloster, as posted to his Vkontakte page in 2019. First advertised in the cybercrime underground in 2014, RSOCKS was the web-based storefront for hacked computers that were sold as “proxies” to cybercriminals looking for ways to route their Web traffic through someone else’s device. Customers could pay to rent access to a pool of proxies for a specified period, with costs ranging from $30 per day for access to 2,000 proxies, to $200 daily for up to 90,000 proxies. Many of the infected systems were Internet of Things (IoT) devices, including industrial control systems, time clocks, routers, audio/video streaming devices, and smart garage door openers. Later in its existence, the RSOCKS botnet expanded into compromising Android devices and conventional computers. In June 2022, authorities in the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom announced a joint operation to dismantle the RSOCKS botnet. But that action did not name any defendants. Inspired by that takedown,…
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