Hacker behind $100M in hospital losses pleads guilty

A Russian national pleaded guilty to his involvement in a ransomware plot that attacked U.S. hospitals, causing millions of dollars in losses.

Vladimir Dunaev, 40, deployed the malicious software Trickbot, which was used by hackers to tie up computer systems and extort tens of millions of dollars from a variety of institutions, U.S. federal prosecutors alleged.

"Vladimir Dunaev misused his special skills as a computer programmer to develop the Trickbot suite of malware," said Rebecca Lutzko, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, in a Nov. 30 news release. "Dunaev and his codefendants hid behind their keyboards, first to create Trickbot, then using it to infect millions of computers worldwide — including those used by hospitals, schools, and businesses — invading privacy and causing untold disruption and financial damage."

Hackers involved in the Trickbot and Conti ransomware schemes reportedly extorted $100 million from U.S. hospitals. The Russian hackers that used Trickbot allegedly infected dozens of American hospitals in 2020, and had hundreds more in their sights.

Mr. Dunaev, who was indicted with eight other defendants, faces up to 35 years in prison at sentencing March 20. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. He was extradited to the Northern District of Ohio from South Korea in 2021.

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