Some lawmakers are questioning how cybercriminal Aleksei Burkov, who has operated two of the most exclusive Russian underground hacking forums, was released early, KrebsOnSecurity reported Tuesday (March 15).
Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, Burkov was arrested in 2015 by Israeli authorities. The Russian government fought his extradition for years, even going so far as to arrest and jail an Israeli woman to force a prisoner swap.
Burkov was ultimately sent to the United States, where he pled guilty and received a nine-year prison sentence. However, just over a year later, he was released and sent back to Russia.
According to the report, Burkov admitted to running CardPlanet, which sold over 150,000 stolen credit card accounts. He also admitted to being a founder of DirectConnection, a closely guarded online community that worked with some of the world’s most-wanted Russian hackers.
The report also noted he was in charge of “Mazafaka,” a secretive Russian cybercrime forum. As such, he was a highly coveted target and one of the “most connected malicious hackers ever apprehended” by the U.S.
In August 2021, Burkov was released and deported to Russia by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, and several House lawmakers are seeking answers as to why he was allowed to leave in the first place.
In a letter sent to White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, several representatives have requested “an explanation as to why the Biden Administration granted Burkov early release from U.S. custody,” among other requests, such as whether the U.S. received anything in return for his release.
PYMNTS wrote recently that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has revived worries of “spillover effects” from cyberwarfare, with the targets being global computer networks and an already-bad cybersecurity situation.
See also: Cyber Insurance Sees Price Hikes Ahead as Cyberwar Compounds Fraud Wave
Cybersecurity has been an ongoing problem, with the chaos prompting firms to start shopping for security solutions and cyber insurance.
The main issue comes if things escalate with breaches in a way that copies the NotPetya attack from 2017, which hit a Ukrainian accounting firm and let hackers “rampage” across several other networks. The price tag for that ended up being around $10 billion in global damage.