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Eight years later, the case against the Mariposa malware gang moves forward in the US



Eight years after US law enforcement opened a first case in the operations of the Mariposa (Butterfly Bot, BFBOT) malware gang, officials are now moving forward with new charges and arrest warrants against four suspects.

The original case started way back in May 2011, when US officials first filed a complaint against three European hackers. The investigation into this group’s operations unearthed a cyber-crime empire and eventually led to the takedown of the infamous Darkode hacking forum, a famous meeting place for high-end hackers.

Last week, US officials unsealed new documents in this investigation, including charges against a fourth, US-based hacker.

The four suspects now are:

  • Matjaz Skorjanc, aka iserdo aka serdo, 32, of Maribor, Slovenia;
  • Florencio Carro Ruiz, aka NeTK aka Netkairo, 40, of Vizcaya, Spain;
  • Mentor Leniqi, aka Iceman, 35, of Gurisnica, Slovenia;
  • Thomas McCormick, aka fubar, 26, of Washington state, in the United States.

Mariposa malware

According to new court documents obtained by ZDNet, the four are charged with creating and running the Mariposa malware (referred to as the Butterfly Bot or BFBOT in court documents; “mariposa” meaning “butterfly” in Spanish).

More specifically, US officials say Skorjanc created the malware and then partnered with Ruiz and Leniqi to advertise it on Darkode, a hacking forum that Skorjanc helped created and manage.

US officials say the three put the malware up for sale on Darkode for a price of €350 starting in 2008. According to its ad, the malware could self-propagate to other computers once it infected a victim, could steal banking credentials, and could carry out DDOS attacks.

Skorjanc was the malware’s author, but Ruiz and Leniqi provided customer support and assistance.

McCormick was a Darkode user who bought and later resold the Mariposa bot as an affiliate. He also sold copies of the Zeus banking trojan, and also worked as a “sales manager” for another malware strain named ngrBot, created by two other unnamed suspects.

The four not only sold copies of the Mariposa bot, but they also actively infected victims and sold access to the infected hosts in “pay-per-install” schemes that let other cyber-criminals install additional malware on these systems, such as ransomware or banking trojans.

Mariposa and Darkode takedown

In the short span of only two years, Mariposa became one of the largest botnets in existence, infecting over one million computers.

The botnet grew too much to be ignored, and was more aggresive than most, because of its self-propagating features. Spanish police, working with the FBI, shut down the Mariposa botnet in 2010.

The takedown was coordinated with arrests, with Spanish authorities arresting Ruiz and two others co-conspirators, while Slovenian police arrested Skorjanc and his girlfriend.

Skorjanc received a four years and ten months prison sentence in December 2013 and was released from prison by Slovenian authorities last year.

However, work on investigating Mariposa operations also pointed authorities towards the place it was being sold on, the Darkode hacking forum.

Even to this day, the name Darkode maintains its reputation as being one of the web’s most notorious hacking forums. The forum had no more than 300 users, but they were all high-end hackers, such as the creator of the Dendroid malware, the creator of the GovRAT malware (also known as BestBuy or Popopret), the author of the SpyEYE malware, Lizard Squad members, and various spammer groups.

In the summer of 2015, the FBI, Europol, and police agencies all over the world shut down Skorjanc’s second creation — the Darkode forum — and made over 70 arrests.

Delayed charges

The reasons why US officials kept charges against Skorjanc, Ruiz, Leniqi, and McCormick sealed until 2019 are unclear. It may be that they wanted to wait for Skorjanc to serve his prison sentence in Slovenia.

It may also be that they wanted to incorporate the data from the Darkode seizure into their case, which appears they did. The new court documents are brimming with citations to private messages the four had exchanged on Darkode forum, not included in the original 2011 complaint.

While McCormick is already in US custody, being arrested since December 2018, Skorjanc, Leniqi, and Ruiz still remain at large.

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Adventist Risk Management Data Protection Infrastructure



Companies always want to enhance their ability to quickly address pressing business needs. Toward that end, they look for new ways to make their IT infrastructures more efficient—and more cost effective. Today, those pressing needs often center around data protection and regulatory compliance, which was certainly the case for Adventist Risk Management. What they wanted was an end-to-end, best-in-class solution to meet their needs. After trying several others, they found the perfect combination with HYCU and Nutanix, which provided:

  • Ease of deployment
  • Outstanding ROI
  • Overall TCO improvement

Nutanix Cloud Platform provides a software-defined hyperconverged infrastructure, while HYCU offers purpose-built backup and recovery for Nutanix. Compared to the previous traditional infrastructure and data protection solutions in use at Adventist Risk Management, Nutanix and HYCU simplified processes, speeding day-to-day operations up to 75%. Now, migration and update activities typically scheduled for weekends can be performed during working hours and help to increase IT staff and management quality of life. HYCU further increased savings by providing faster and more frequent points of recovery as well as better DR Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) by increasing the ability to do daily backups from one to four per day.

Furthermore, the recent adoption of Nutanix Objects, which provides secure and performant S3 storage capabilities, enhanced the infrastructure by:

    • Improving overall performance for backups
    • Adding security against potential ransomware attacks
    • Replacing components difficult to manage and support

In the end, Nutanix and HYCU enabled their customer to save money, improve the existing environment, and, above all, meet regulatory compliance requirements without any struggle.

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Secure Insight: GigaOm Partners with the CISO Series



Don’t look now, but GigaOm, the analyst firm that enables smart businesses to future-proof their decisions, is forging new partnerships to extend its reach and better inform busy IT decision makers. On Thursday, the company announced it was teaming with the CISO Series to share content and better support the community of chief information security officers, security practitioners, and security vendors.

“The CISO Series is one we have admired for a while because they have a very similar aim: They help security professionals become more knowledgeable and understand how their roles are changing,” said Ben Book, GigaOm founder and CEO. “We saw a clear common interest and are delighted to be working together.”

The CISO Series brand has built a formidable reputation through its podcasts, blogs, video chats, and live events for the security community. It has added the extremely popular CyberSecurity Headlines podcast to its stable this year, which joins the CISO/Security Vendor Relationship and Defense in Depth podcasts. Every Friday at 10am Pacific Time, the CISO Series hosts its highly engaging and fun weekly live CISO Series Video Chat, which viewers can register for here.

The channel partnership connects two of the strongest, fastest-growing brands in enterprise IT content production. The agreement enables the CISO Series to share exclusive GigaOm reports with its audience ahead of publication, while GigaOm is able to share insights from the CISO Series’ various publications through its social channels and newsletters. The CISO Series joins other media firms, such as The Register and SDXCentral, as official GigaOm Channel Partners.

“We are delighted to be working with GigaOm because we’re not only both addressing the same audience, but we’re also both trying to bring education and understanding to both the security vendor and practitioner communities,” said David Spark, managing editor and executive producer at the CISO Series. “GigaOm is providing some excellent reports that we’re leaning on for our discussions and reporting across all of our shows.”

Spark continued: “We are always tweaking our programming to bring the best and most up-to-date resources and we’re really impressed with both the volume and quality GigaOm is delivering. Not only are we impressed with their editorial work, but we also appreciate their business branding. It’s something we felt comfortable about aligning with the CISO Series brand as well.”

Check out the CISO Series schedule at, or visit for more information about the CISO Series and its weekly Video Chats.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Vulnerability Management Tools



Vulnerability management tools scan your IT estate to help identify and mitigate security risks and weaknesses. These tools can facilitate the development of a more comprehensive vulnerability management program. Leveraging people, processes, and technologies, successful initiatives effectively identify, classify, prioritize, and remediate security threats.

A security vulnerability is a weakness that can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of information. Attackers are constantly looking to exploit defects in software code or insecure configurations. Vulnerabilities can exist anywhere in the software stack, from web applications and databases to infrastructure components such as load balancers, firewalls, machine and container images, operating systems, and libraries. This includes code used in the CI/CD pipeline as well as the infrastructure-as-code (IAC) that defines the compute, network, and storage infrastructure.

Recent cybersecurity events have exposed widespread vulnerabilities involving the exploitation of zero-day malware and unknown weaknesses. Threat actors continually discover new exploitation tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to take advantage of weaknesses throughout integrated systems. Moreover, identifying breach paths is increasingly complicated due to the widespread adoption of ephemeral services.

Vulnerability management solutions should provide end-to-end visibility of the protect-surface by aggregating both platform and application risks in a single pane of glass, while leveraging prioritized remediation based on business risk and threat context for efficiency. Containerized workloads deployed via DevOps pipelines have unique security requirements that demand a fully integrated vulnerability assessment to be automated into cloud platform services running containerized workloads.

The path to a mature security posture starts with the ability to identify vulnerabilities in software code, third-party libraries, and at runtime. In addition, the cloud platform used to host your applications should be scanned for misconfigurations. This requires the use of policy configuration baselines, benchmarks, and compliance standards that apply to both the infrastructure and the code used to build it. As organizations implement security guardrails early in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), they can take advantage of cloud-native culture to ensure network and security tools are used throughout all phases of the SDLC.

This GigaOm report explores the key criteria and emerging technologies that IT decision makers should evaluate when choosing a vulnerability management solution. The key criteria report, together with the GigaOm radar report that evaluates relevant products, provides a framework to help organizations assess the solutions currently available on the market and how these tools fit with their requirements.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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