US charges woman over malware attacks
A Latvian woman has been charged in the United States with developing malicious software used by a cybercrime digital network that infected computers worldwide and looted bank accounts of millions of dollars.
Alla Witte is charged as part of a 47-count indictment with taking part in a cybercrime organisation known as the Trickbot Group, which authorities say operated in Russia and several other countries.
The group is accused of infecting millions of computers worldwide with malicious software that targeted hospitals, schools, governments, businesses and other entities.
Witte, who authorities say previously lived in Suriname, was arrested in Miami in February. She was arraigned on Friday in federal court in Cleveland, according to the Justice Department.
The prosecution, which the Justice Department says is part of its new ransomware task force, comes as the Biden administration confronts a growing scourge of ransomware attacks that have targeted crucial supply chains including meat and fuel.
The indictment accuses Witte of taking part in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from entities across the world by infecting computers with malware that captured personal information - such as credit card numbers and passwords - and gave TrickBot members access to the victims' computers.
Among the targets identified in the indictment are real estate and law firms, a country club, public school districts and other companies.
Prosecutors say Witte worked as a malware developer for the group, writing code related to ransomware that told victims they would need to acquire special software to decrypt their files.
She is also accused of providing code that monitored and tracked authorized users of the malware.
The indictment, which includes multiple other defendants whose names have been blacked out, includes charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, aggravated identity theft and other crimes.
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