Accused Kelihos malware mastermind protests his innocence

Filed Under: Botnet, Featured, Law & order, Malware, Microsoft, Spam

Andrey Sabelnikov's LinkedIn photographAndrey Sabelnikov, who Microsoft accused last week of being the mastermind behind the Kelihos botnet, has protested his innocence.

The 31-year-old programmer from St Petersburg became the subject of headlines around the world after Microsoft told US courts that they believed he created the Kelihos malware, and alleged that he "used the malware to control, operate, maintain and grow the Kelihos botnet".

According to Microsoft, up to 4 billion spam emails were sent every day by computers infected by the malware and commandeered into the Kelihos botnet.

What particularly raised eyebrows is Sabelnikov's background - which includes a stint working as a senior developer and product manager at Agnitum, a Russian firm well-known for its firewall and other security software.

There is no suggestion that Agnitum are connected with the allegations, or that their security software - which includes anti-virus products - are compromised in any way.

Sabelnikov, however, hasn't taken the accusations lying down. Instead, he's turned to his LiveJournal account where he posted a statement:

Statement by Sabelnikov

Part of Sabelnikov's statement reads (after translation by Google):

I did not commit this crime, have never participated in the management of botnets and any other similar programs, and especially not extracted from it any benefit.

Sabelnikov's blog entry also explains that news of the charges leveled by Microsoft broke while he was on a business trip to the United States. However, he decided to cut short his trip to return home to Russia.

What remains unclear is what will happen next in this case. Russian law forbids the extradition of its citizens to face trial in foreign countries, so it seems it will be Sabelnikov's decision whether he chooses to argue his innocence in a US court of law.

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4 Responses to Accused Kelihos malware mastermind protests his innocence

  1. JohnC · 966 days ago

    Only a complete idiot would submit themselves to the tender mercies of the US legal system, a system that now emulates the Nazi legal system where nobody had any rights whatsoever. The Russians are quite right to refuse extradition, and every other country should do the same to force a stop to the international bullying perpetrated by the corrupt Americanese.

  2. Michael · 966 days ago

    Does he even need to argue his innocence? Was there much evidence of guilt to begin with?

  3. innocent_upon_escape · 965 days ago

    Sure looks like he made a hasty beeline out of the country - I'm thinking it's right after he heard about MS's accusation. lol

  4. JoshuaB · 965 days ago

    I completely agree with JohnC... :)
    "The Russians are quite right to refuse extradition, and every other country should do the same to force a stop to the international bullying perpetrated by the corrupt Americanese."

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.