Aleksandr Andreevich Panin and Hamza Bendelladj were sentenced last week for developing and selling malware that enabled cybercriminals to steal sensitive data and access bank accounts. Panin received a 9 and a half year sentence and Bendalladj was sentenced to 15 years in prison. SpyEye, the notorious malware that they created, caused $1 billion in losses in the finance industry around the world. Panin and Bendelladj used the aliases Gribodemon and Bx1 online, so you may have heard of them based on their username handles if you pay attention to malware threats.

Over 50 Million Computers Were Infected with SpyEye

From 2010 to 2012, SpyEye infected over 50 million computers worldwide. It was a type of trojan that automated the process of stealing personal information, credit card information, online banking credentials, usernames, passwords, and PINs. As its name suggests, SpyEye operated by secretly infecting a computer and providing cybercriminals with the ability to remotely control the machine through command and control servers.

How SpyEye Enabled Cybercriminals to Steal Money and Personal Information

With the computer infected and under the cybercriminal’s control, the hackers would remotely access the system to steal the desired information whether it was personal or financial. Several techniques were used to access this sensitive information, including keyloggers, Web injects, and credit card grabbers. Stolen information from the victim was then secretly transferred to the command and control servers where it could be used to steal money from the victim’s bank account in addition to other shady activities.

Over 1 Million Emails with SpyEye Were Sent to Users in the U.S.

Bendelladj sent over 1 million emails infected with SpyEye to users in the United States. He also developed and sold add-ons for botnets, including Automated Transfer System, web injects, and a spreader. These tools aided in surreptitiously automating online theft and spreading the malware to other computers.

One of the Top Banking Trojans

SpyEye was known as the preeminent banking malware trojan in the world during its peek. Although SpyEye is no longer a major threat because the hackers who created it were arrested, you shouldn’t be surprised if someone who bought the malware decides to use it. Because it was sold to many cybercriminals, a few businesses may still suffer from attacks.

You never know what will be the next big thing in malware or how it will function. As technology advances, hackers develop new methods of breaking into systems and stealing desired information. No business can afford to not invest in network security, especially when many infiltrations go unnoticed.

In a previous article we wrote, Why Data Security is Important for All Businesses, we shared an example of a company that had information stolen by a hacker for two years without noticing. They only found out about it when Dell informed them that they found the company’s sensitive data stored in a hacker’s server while Dell’s counter-threat unit was investigating new methods hackers are using.

2/3 of Victim Companies to Cyber Attacks in 2011 Went Out of Business

Your business should have a data security plan, especially if it’s small or medium in size. According to research by Symantec/NCSA, cyber attacks costed small and medium businesses an average of $188,242 in 2011, and 2/3 of the companies were forced out of business within six months after the attack.


Instead of pushing your luck if you haven’t fallen victim to one of these nasty malware attacks, you should make sure you have a good network security plan in place. SpyEye was just one example of many types of malware that stole a significant amount of money from people around the globe. Although the hackers who created SpyEye were sent to prison, there are many more hackers that can take their place with a better version of SpyEye.