The FBI's Most Wanted Cyber Criminals & Terrorists - Official List
“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Who are the FBI's most-wanted Cyber Criminals?
The media might have you believe that all cyber criminals are part of organized rings in far off places such as Russia, but hackers and identity thieves exist in everywhere and make up every demographic. From high school students who entice fellow students to send nude pictures and then blackmail those students, to a man who was charged with counterfeiting money orders to pay for items he found on Craigslist, cyber criminals are presenting a growing collection of crimes.
On the smallest level, cyber crimes relate to fraud, blackmail, or misuse of computer networks by one individual. Monetary values associated with the crimes can range from a few hundred dollars to many millions of dollars.
On a higher level, cyber crimes are part of integrated organized crime groups with global reach. These groups use cyber crimes within their communities as a way to fund activities or outwit legal resources. Organized cyber crime often takes place through underground markets, where cyber criminals barter identities and information that were illegally obtained.
Cyber criminals do not discriminate. They are attacking our government and the people within. Driven by ego, money, and the prospect of fame, they attack because they can, because we allow them to and because we neither protect ourselves, nor disclose when we are attacked.
As we become increasingly technology dependent, we’re allowing ourselves to be attacked, but doing little to defend. The criminals listed below are only part of the problem. Corporations should begin to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in their networks, and address attacks when they happen, not months later. But be careful, that cyber criminal might just be your next-door neighbor hacking alone in his or her basement. Cyber criminals come in all shapes, sizes, races and religions.
The FBI's Most Wanted Cyber Criminals
To get an idea of these cyber criminals, you can scroll through the FBI's “most-wanted cyber criminals” list. You'll find criminals involved in racketeering, conspiracy to commit bank or computer fraud, identity theft. These cyber criminals are considered so dangerous that the FBI has offered millions of dollars in reward money for information leading to their capture.
Evgeniy Milhailovich Bogachev (RUSSIA)
Bogachev tops the FBI's list and warrants a $3 million reward. Bogachev’s crimes include conspiracy charges, racketeering, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, bank fraud, money laundering, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and computer fraud. Bogachev created a racketeering enterprise that installed Zeus software on individual and business computers without authorization from the computer owner. The malicious software was used to steal data, including passwords, logins, and bank account numbers. The information was then either sold on the underground market or used to login to bank accounts and steal funds.
Peteris Sahurovs (RUSSIA & UKRAINE)
According to the FBI, “Peteris Sahurovs is wanted for his alleged involvement in an international cybercrime scheme that took place from February of 2010 to September of 2010. The scheme utilized a computer virus that involved the online sale of fraudulent computer security programs that defrauded Internet users of more than $2 million.” Sahurovs’ scheme of using fake software to steal from naïve computer users, continues to this day.
Viet Quoc Nguyen (VIETNAM)
Wanted by the FBI for hacking into email service providers, Nguyen stole confidential information contained in emails. The email providers were all US-based, and Nguyen got away with billions of email addresses contained in proprietary marketing information for some email users. In addition to the email schemes, Nguyen generated a revenue stream by hacking networks and redirecting Internet traffic to websites.
Nicolae Popescu (ROMANIA)
According to the FBI, “Nicolae Popescu is wanted for his alleged participation in a sophisticated Internet Fraud scheme where criminal enterprise conspirators, based in Romania and elsewhere in Europe, posted advertisements on Internet auction market sites for merchandise for sale. Such advertisements contained images and descriptions of vehicles and other items for sale, but those items did not really exist.
Alexsey Belan (RUSSIA)
According to the FBI, “Between January of 2012, and April of 2013, Alexsey Belan is alleged to have intruded the computer networks of three major United States-based e-commerce companies in Nevada and California. He is alleged to have stolen their user databases, which he then exported and made readily accessible on his server. Belan allegedly stole the user data and the encrypted passwords of millions of accounts and then negotiated the sales of the databases.”
Sun Kailiang (CHINA)
According to the FBI, “On May 1, 2014, a grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania indicted five members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for 31 criminal counts, including: conspiring to commit computer fraud; accessing a computer without authorization for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain; damaging computers through the transmission of code and commands; aggravated identity theft; economic espionage; and theft of trade secrets.”
The common thread between the above cyber criminals and cyber hackers is not how much they profited by their attacks, but rather how crippling and widespread these attacks were on our population. The other commonality is that each criminal is protected by the state or nation in which they reside. Similar to how Osama bin Laden, who was safeguarded by the Pakistani government, these cyber terrorists are living in plain sight of governments and people who turn a blind eye toward their actions.
How can we stop the FBI's most wanted cyber hackers and cyber criminals?
The only way we’re going to capture these cyber criminals is by using a three-part approach that blends both offensive and defensive measures from our Government, private enterprises, including the best cybersecurity startups.
1. Crowdsourced investigations
We should release every internet record and file we have on these suspected cyber criminals. This data includes IP addresses used, names of friends and family, all usernames used, previous addresses, bank and financial records. Make every cyber attack transparent; let the world know, and the affected population, who is responsible. I liken this crowd sourced approach to how a cold-case was solved using the popular internet forum, Reddit. While some might argue these cyber criminals deserve due process, these are terrorists and shouldn’t be protected under the Geneva Convention. The American government should also work with crowd sourced platforms like BugCrowd and Synack whose platforms have enough white hackers to back-trace cyber attacks and these cyber criminals.
2. Penalize the Cyber hackers – With 3x the power
Penalize every company that knowingly allows malicious traffic or turns a blind eye to these cyber criminals who host illicit forums and networks. After notifying the Internet Service Provider (ISP) that their servers have been used by cyber terrorists, give them reasonable notice and then 30 days to block these cyber criminals. Some would argue that First Amendment principles prohibit taking down cyber criminal forums; some would argue that it’s not the company’s responsibility to monitor what goes on, but the reality is that we’re talking about cyber terrorists and a new World War that will require heightened awareness and actions by all.
Penalize every nation that knowingly harbors cyber fugitives. The idea is to levy massive economic warfare on any nation who is responsible, directly or indirectly, for allowing a cyber attack. The country should feel three-times the amount of economic impact that any American company or federal governmental agency felt.
3. Slow the flow of web traffic
Just as we try to block illegal drug-traffickers from crossing our borders, we need to slow inbound traffic coming from the states that are sponsoring cyber attackers. Though many cyber attackers use localized ISP providers based in America, there’s still volumes of traffic coming from European and Asian countries. Some would argue this approach isn’t fair for either legitimate web commerce or for the companies who rely on these countries for business, but the financial impact on our industries at large outweighs this “fairness.” The state of cybersecurity is so dire that we have to act now or billions more in damages will be realized.
It’s important to note that the U.S. government could incentivize the private sector to direct this traffic. After all, penalizing everything isn’t always the best solution. I’m not arguing we need a “cyber-police” – in fact, as a free-market economist, I believe the private sector could accomplish most of the goals above. As an example, top cybersecurity startups like Cloudflare allow ISPs and individual domains to block traffic from certain countries.
If you'd like to learn more about cybersecurity - startups fighting these cyber criminals - or the FBI's most wanted list, contact our research department.