How was the wedding of the world’s richest hacker & how government failed to catch him?
Footage of a fulsome wedding has risen and, as cybersecurity researchers say, they involve a Russian man named by British and American authorities as the world’s biggest cybercriminal. Russian citizen Maksim Yakubets, 32 years old, identified as responsible for multiple electronic frauds, married Alyona Benderskaya, a businesswoman and daughter of a retired Russian security service officer, in 2017. The wedding would have cost more than £250k.
Multiple images of the event appeared on the
Internet recently; however, in all the photos where Yakubets appears, he
appears on his back, and his face is never shown, at least not in the leaked
images. Another of the images clearly reveals Eduard Bendersky, a controversial
former member of the elite unit of the Russian Federal Security Unit and father
of the bride.
The images were obtained from the website of
the wedding planning company Karamel, describing them as images of the wedding
of Alyona and Maksim; although there were attempts to remove the images from
the company’s website, it was sufficient to publish them for a short period of
time for justice agencies to find them.
Police agencies in the United Kingdom and the
United States have identified Yakubets as the leader of the dangerous hacking
group Evil Corp, and claim that he has been actively collaborating with the
Russian Federation Security Service for at least a couple of years. Independent
researchers and cybersecurity firms have also identified Yakubets as the
intellectual author of a campaign that involves using dangerous malware
to steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to US authorities, the luxurious
wedding, as well as the ostentatious lifestyle of Yakubets (luxury cars and multiple
properties, for example) have been funded thanks to his illicit activities.
Donald Trump’s administration recently revealed that it offers a reward of up
to $5 million USD for information to help capture Yakubets; this is the highest
figure that the American authorities have offered for an alleged cybercriminal.
As for the fraud campaign allegedly deployed by
Yakubets, cybersecurity experts mention that more than 300 companies in 40
different countries were attacked. Lynne Owens, director of the National Crime
Agency (NCA) in Britain, mentions: “Yakubets is responsible for multiple
cyberattack campaigns targeting various financial structures, employing
dangerous malware variants for more than ten years.” In case of leaving
Russia, Yakubets could be arrested, convicted and fined for million-dollar
British authorities estimate that the impact of
fraud in the UK reaches hundreds of millions of pounds, as well as pointing to
the hacker group Evil Corp as the most important cybersecurity threat to the
The main obstacle to catching Yakubets is the
Russian government, which, while it has been willing to cooperate with Western
authorities in combating cybercrime, have always been reluctant to hand over
their citizens to stand trial by the justice in the US. However, Dmitry Peskov,
a spokesman for the Russian government, mentions: “The fight against cybercrime
is an issue on which the Kremlin has always been willing to collaborate.
Although our proposals only found reluctance and lack of understanding, we
still believe that cyber criminals should be brought before the law.”
Specialists from the International Institute of
Cyber Security (IICS) consider it unlikely that the Russian government will
hand over Yakubets, so American and British authorities should think of a
different strategy than simply waiting for the Russian cooperation in this
He is a well-known expert in mobile security and malware analysis. He studied Computer Science at NYU and started working as a cyber security analyst in 2003. He is actively working as an anti-malware expert. He also worked for security companies like Kaspersky Lab. His everyday job includes researching about new malware and cyber security incidents. Also he has deep level of knowledge in mobile security and mobile vulnerabilities.