Why Pittsburgh?

For the second time in as many weeks, national reporters are asking: Why Pittsburgh? First it was U.S. Attorney Hickton indicting the Chinese military hackers. Now it’s Hickton and the FBI going after Russian criminal hackers.

Why Pittsburgh? The FBI’s top cyber investigator Keith Mularski told me that’s easy: “I just think it goes to the team we have here in Pittsburgh and the resources we have. … We have one of the best teams in the country, if not all of the world.”

Talking with experts who worked this latest case from the inside out, I was able to piece together a story you won’t read anywhere else. It tells about how the nation’s top cyber experts — in Pittsburgh — tracked down hackers all the way back to a Black Sea resort town in Russia.

This map shows the locations of computers in Pennsylvania infected with the Russian malware Gameover Zeus on a single day in May 2013.

This map shows the locations of computers in Pennsylvania infected with the Russian malware Gameover Zeus on a single day in May 2013.

FBI cyber agents in Pittsburgh helped bring down two Russian-based cybercrime schemes that infected more than a half-million computers around the world and stole more than $100 million in the United States alone.

The Tribune-Review has learned how federal investigators here shut down the cyberattacks by teaming up with private cybersecurity companies and university experts to poison the hackers’ computers. Then the agents formed an international coalition to shut down servers and search computers used by the cyberattackers. Even amid recent unrest in eastern Ukraine, officials there cooperated by conducting searches.

Read more.

 

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