One of the World’s Worst Spammers, “The Peter North of spamming,” was just arrested this weekend at F.B.I. request in Spain. He has connections to the hacking of a 2012 Russian election, and possibly the 2016 American election as well. Each day a new Russian election meddler: Meet Peter (or the Russian form, Pyotr) Levashov, who may also go by the name of Peter Severa, or just “Severa,” a hacker moniker. He was vacationing with his family in Barcelona at the time of his arrest under a U.S. international arrest warrant.
The Kingpin of Spam is busted.
— Security News (@netsecu) April 10, 2017
Reuters reported that Russian television had announced Severa was suspected of involvement in the hacking attacks linked to alleged interference in America’s 2016 election.
“The U.S. case remains under seal, so we have no information to provide at this time,” stated Peter Carr, spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division.
Another Department of Justice official said, “it was a criminal matter without an apparent national security connection.”
Krebs on Security, authored by former Washington Post investigative reporter Brian Krebs, has posted numerous stories about Severa. He is connected to a convicted American spammer called the “Godfather of spam,” Alan Ralsky of Michigan, fake antivirus software, malware, and spam botnet programs called Waledac and Kelihos. One of these spam botnets could send 1.5 billion spam messages in a single day. That would be enough to generate quite a lot of confusion out there.
As a side note on Ralsky, karma paid him a visit when thousands of Internet trolls paid him back for all the spam he had sent out. Leading up to his 2009 conviction, he received hundreds of pounds of junk mail each day at his physical address.
We wonder what may happen to House Republicans who recently voted to allow internet service providers (ISP) to sell your internet history? That’s a lot of spam, but we digress…
Severa likely made a large part of his living renting the Waledac botnet to other spammers, who would pay cash to send millions of spam, junk, and phishing emails, according to Krebs.
Alleged Russian spam kingpin Pyotr "Severa" Levashov arrested in Spain https://t.co/BPsQ1kVwae < in operation since 1999.
— briankrebs (@briankrebs) April 10, 2017
We can establish a clear connection between Peter of the North to the tactic of proliferating fake news stories to influence elections. We are certain this tactic was used by Russian hackers to sway the election to favor Trump.
The Kelihos botnet was used during the 2012 Russian election when Vladimir Putin was running for president against an opponent, Mikhail D. Prokhorov. The botnet sent emails to computers with Russian internet addresses with fake news that claimed that Prokhorov had come out as gay.
Guess the idea of fake news outing Hillary as gay wouldn’t have been as original as pointing fingers to her private server emails this go-around?
Featured image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/dogbomb/2269119452, World Map
Simon Brass (CC BY 2.0), altered
World Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_map#/media/File:Winkel_triple_projection_SW.jpg
Hand from maxpixel, altered