The mastermind behind some of the world’s biggest and longest-running botnets has been jailed and his vast criminal infrastructure has been taken down, in part because of a careless operational security blunder that allowed authorities to identify his anonymous online persona.
Officials from the Republic of Belarus reported Monday they detained a participant in the sprawling Andromeda botnet network, which was made up of 464 separate botnets that spread more than 80 distinct malware families since 2011. On Tuesday, researchers with security firm Recorded Future published a blog post that said the participant was a 33-year-old Belarusian named Sergey Jarets.
To most people, Jarets was known only as “Ar3s,” the moniker assigned to a highly respected elder in the criminal underground. In online discussions, Ar3s demonstrated expertise in malware development and the reverse engineering of software. He also acted as a reputable guarantor of deals that were hashed out online. As it turned out, the ICQ number of the figure he used as one of his primary contact methods was registered in several whitehat discussion forums to one Sergey Jaretz.