Romanian hacker extradited to the US over harmful virus that hit NASA computers
Mihai Ionut Paunescu, a 37-year-old Romanian national accused of having helped spread a virus that infected over 1 million computers worldwide, including those of NASA, was extradited from Colombia to the US. Federal prosecutors say the Gozi Virus is one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history.
Paunescu was initially arrested in Romania in December 2012 and released on bail. He was arrested again in Colombia last year at the request of the United States. On Monday, July 18, he was presented before a federal court in Manhattan and detained.
Paunescu is alleged to have run a “bulletproof hosting” service that enabled cyber criminals worldwide to spread the Gozi Virus, which stole personal bank account information while remaining virtually undetectable, Reuters reported.
The virus infected over 1 million computers worldwide, of which at least 40,000 in the US. Among them, computers belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA, the prosecutors said. Other computers were located in Germany, Great Britain, Poland, France, Finland, Italy, and Turkey.
The virus caused “tens of millions of dollars in losses” to the individuals, businesses, and government entities whose computers were infected, federal prosecutors also said.
Mihai Paunescu is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
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