CENT FBI nabs alleged hackers in theft of 15M credit cards from Chipotle, others - CNET

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The FIN7 hacking group allegedly stole credit card records from Chipotle.Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images

A prolific hacking group behind hundreds of cyberattacks on restaurants has lost its alleged leaders.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that it's arrested three high-ranking members of the international hacking group FIN7. The international cybercriminal organization was behind cyberattacks on restaurants like Chipotle, Chili's and Arby's, according to the indictments.

The hacking group allegedly stole 15 million credit card records after striking over 3,600 locations in 47 states. FIN7 hit more than 100 US companies, with a focus on restaurants, hotels and gaming, Western District US attorney Annette Hayes, said during a press conference on Wednesday. 



A graphic from the Justice Department showing the extent of FIN7's hacking campaign.Justice Department

The group carried out its attacks through carefully crafted email messages, packed with malware designed to infiltrate its victims' networks. Once the phishing emails tricked someone into opening a file, FIN7's hackers would dig through the networks to search for and steal credit card information, which they would then sell online, prosecutors said.

The emails would come in with a Microsoft Word file laced with malware, pretending to make an order for catering. The hackers would go beyond emails, and make follow-up phone calls to trick victims into opening the malicious files.  

"They appeared to be harmless, and would often accompany the emails with phone calls in attempts to get them to open the attachment," Jay Tabb Jr., an FBI agent involved in the investigation, said.



One of the many phishing emails used to trick victims into installing malware.Justice Department

The campaign of attacks is estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars in damages, the US attorney said. FIN7 also carried out attacks against businesses in France, the UK and Australia.

"We are under no illusion that we have taken this group down all together but we have made a significant impact," Hayes said.

The three FIN7 members are all Ukrainian nationals, and have been charged with 26 felony counts of computer hacking, identity theft and wire fraud. The first arrest landed in January, when Fedir Hladyr was caught in Germany and extradited to the US. 

Hladyr was allegedly a systems administrator for FIN7 and maintained the cybercrime group's servers and communications. Dymtro Fedorov, was also arrested in January, and is currently awaiting extradition in Poland. He is allegedly a high-level hacker within FIN7 and managed other cybercriminals within the organization, prosecutors said. 

Andrii Kopakov, also allegedly a supervisor within FIN7, was arrested in June in Spain and is waiting for extradition.

The three alleged hackers used a fake company called Combi Security to recruit members, pretending to be based in Russia and Israel. According to prosecutors, the fake company's website listed many of FIN7's victims as its clients.

Researchers from security firm FireEye also found that FIN7 had targeted members of the US Securities and Exchange Commission in 2017, but Justice Department officials said the group is not backed by any governments.

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