World’s ‘sexiest hacker’ may not be a hacker

8 Oct 2010

Kristina Svechinskaya, one of 37 people charged in New York for taking part in a bank-hacking plot to steal US$35,000 as part of a notorious East European Zbot cyber criminal gang, may in fact not be a hacker, warns Graham Cluley of Sophos.

“The American media appear to be getting all steamed-up regarding Kristina Svechinskaya, one of 37 people charged this week in New York for their alleged part in a ZBot banking/hacking plot,” said Cluley.

The media described 22-year-old Svechinskaya as an “eastern eyeful” and breathlessly detailed her “calf-high boots and skin-tight jeans”, as she appeared in a federal court.

“Indeed, some are saying that she’s the ‘new Anna Chapman’, a reference to the Russian glamorpuss and Bond-style spy apprehended earlier this year.”

World’s hottest hacker?

But, Cluley asked, is she really the “world’s hottest hacker”, as some are suggesting?

“Well, the jury is still out, of course, as to whether she is actually a hacker. Kristina Svechinskaya has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of false use of passports. That’s not how I would define hacking.

“Prosecutors claims that Svechinskaya was recruited to join a ‘mule’ organisation that had numbered over two dozen participants and had contact with computer hackers and individuals who could provide fake passports.

“Furthermore, she is alleged to have opened at least five bank accounts under her own name and under the aliases ‘Anastasia Opokina’ and ‘Svetlana Makarova’ into which US$35,000 stolen from victims was fraudulently deposited.

“There’s nothing really there to suggest, even if she was proven guilty, that she’s a hacker, though.”

But, Cluley points out, it might be time for everyone to stop believing that cyber crime is merely the province of 35-year-old guys still living at home with their mums.

“Another thing to learn is that if you are young and attractive, and are entangled in a high-profile news story, don’t be surprised if the media grab some pictures of you from Facebook,” he quipped.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years