Russian Gets Five Years in Prison for Developing Malware

(CN) — A Russian man who had a hand in developing a malicious software designed to steal personal financial information has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Mark Vartanyan, also known as “Kolypto,”  was sentenced Wednesday in Atlanta after pleading guilty in March to a computer fraud charge.

U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen said Vartanyan would receive credit for time served, including more than two years in a prison in Norway following his arrest there in October 2014.

He will be turned over to immigration authorities for deportation once he serves his sentence, Cohen said.

Prosecutors said a native of Moscow, was involved in the development, improvement, maintenance and distribution of Citadel from August 2012 to January 2013 while living in Ukraine and again from April 2014 to June 2014 while living in Norway.

Starting in 2011, Citadel was marketed on invite-only, Russian-language internet forums used by cybercriminals, and users targeted the computer networks of major financial and government institutions around the world to steal financial account credentials and personally identifiable information, the government said.

Prosecutors believe the malware infected about 11 million computers worldwide and caused more than $500 million in losses.

Vartanyan didn’t author the malware, federal prosecutor Steven Grimberg told the judge, but “he was, for lack of a better term, the ‘mechanic,’ the person who made it more pernicious.”

But since his arrest Vartanyan has reportedly been a model citizen.

Prosecutor Steven Grimberg told the judge Vartanyan has shown remorse and has cooperated with the government from the start.

Addressing the court Wednesday morning, Vartanyan said he began reading the Bible in prison and that it changed his life.

“My intention is to see how I can lead this Christian life God showed me outside” of prison, he told Judge Cohen.

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