Hacker Pleads Guilty for Breaching PR Newswires


 A Ukrainian hacker who played a major role in a $100 million insider-trading and newswire hacking scheme has plead guilty to stealing unpublished news release. The fraud scheme, as the U.S. Justice Department puts it, is the “largest known computer hacking and securities fraud” ever.

Vadym Iermolovych, 28, has plead guilty to working with two other Ukrainian hackers to steal 150,000 press release from servers belonging to prominent newswire agencies including PR Newswire, Business Wire and Marketwired.

While the U.S. Govt has previously brought charges against other defendants who stand accused in the case, Iermolovych is the first hacker to be convicted after pleading guilty, the US Dept. of Justice announced.

Hacked previously reported on the $100 million insider trading ring that came to light in August 2015, an operation that had lasted over five years. Hackers broke into the networks of the three newswire agencies to steal unpublished drafts of press releases. These releases were then shared with Wall Street stock traders who would correctly hedge a ‘bet’ on a company stock.

Hacking Spree

Iermolovych admitted to buying a hacked database of stolen user names and logins of employees at PR Newswire, as a part of his plea agreement. He proceeded to steal the news releases of the agency by using the credentials of an employee.

Iermolovych also admitted that he had openly advertised the stolen Marketwired releases on a cybercriminal web forum, making tens of thousands of dollars in payments in the process.

The black hat hacker gave up his accomplices as a part of the plea – two Ukrainian hackers who remain at large. Iermolovych plead guilty to several charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with computers and aggravated identity theft.

Iermolovych is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 22, 2016 and faces a potential penalty of 20 years in prison for the wire fraud charge alone.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.