Ukrainian national Fedir Hladyr (35) was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his involvement in the theft of millions of payment cards while he worked for the notorious cybercriminal gang FIN7.
Who is Fedir Hladyr?
Fedir Hladyr, 35, worked as the systems administrator and IT manager for FIN7. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit computer hacking. He could have faced up to 20 years in prison, but the sentence was reduced to 10 years as part of a plea deal. The judge also ordered Hladyr to pay a $2.5 million fine. Hlaydr was initially arrested in 2018 in Dresden, Germany. He has been in custody since then.
During his confession, Hladyr admitted to playing a central role in acquiring payment cards, supervising gang members, and managing the gang’s network for criminal activities. He was also responsible for managing the group’s encrypted communication channels.
Header joined FIN7 in 2015 when he took a job with a fake cybersecurity company called Combi Security. Although he realized it was a front for criminal activity, Hladyr stayed on and continued working for the gang.
During his time there, the gang paid Hladyr $100,000. The Justice Department claimed that
“The defendant was a high-level manager who directed other members of the group and who controlled FIN7’s extensive server infrastructure and encrypted channels of communication. Quite literally, the defendant held the keys to the kingdom.”
What is FIN7?
FIN7 has done a lot of damage since 2015. Experts theorize that the group is responsible for more than $1 billion in losses for companies and individuals. Tens of millions of payment cards have been stolen by FIN7 and distributed on the dark web on sites like the Joker’s Stash.
The U.S. government holds Hlaydr responsible for more than 5.9 million payment cards equaling $100 million in losses.
The prosecution for the case was quoted as saying, “No hacking group epitomizes the industrialization of cybercrime better than the FIN7 criminal enterprise.”
“FIN7 has had over 70 members who were organized into discrete departments and teams. One department developed a full suite of malware tools, while another department designed and sent phishing emails. Yet another department consisted of teams of hackers who surveilled and exploited victim companies that inadvertently had activated malware in the phishing emails.”
Insiders claim that FIN7 routinely sent out hundreds and thousands of spear-phishing emails to casinos, restaurants, and hotels with the goal of installing malware to steal credit card information. Their tactics include targeting point-of-sale devices as well.
According to the FBI, FIN7 targeted many high-profile chains from 2015-2018 like Arby’s, Chili’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jason’s Deli, Red Robin, Sonic, and Taco John’s.
Using information stolen in other breaches, the gang sent very convincing, legitimate-looking phishing messages disguised as reservation details. Once clicked, the email took the recipient to a malicious website, or it contained a file that would install malware on the device if opened.
The U.S. Department of Justice said, “FIN7 successfully breached the computer networks of businesses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, stealing more than 20 million customer card records from over 6,500 individual point-of-sale terminals at more than 3,600 separate business locations.”
FIN7 Still Active
Along with Hladyr, other gang members were arrested in 2018, including another Ukrainian national and high-ranking gang member Andrii Kolpakov. However, despite the hit, FIN7 is still active, and as recently as January, cybersecurity experts saw the group using a malware tool called JSSLoader that they are known to have employed in the past.