One of the most controversial figures in Russia’s online world, ChronoPay co-founder and CEO Pavel Vrublevsky, has been arrested on suspicion of ordering a DDoS attack against a rival firm.
According to news sources, Vrublevsky was last week believed to have fled the country after a hacker told the country’s FSB security services that he’d been hired by the head to attack Assist.ru, a rival in the lucrative digital payments processing sector.
On Friday, however, the fugitive CEO turned up in a Russian court where he was denied bail and a court appearance was scheduled for a month’s time, according to The Financial Times.
The attack that has landed Vrublevsky in trouble took place last summer as his company company was bidding against rivals, including Assist.ru, for the contract to handle online payments for Russian national airline, Aeroflot.
The DDoS charges aside, Vrublevsky and his company ChronoPay have become one of the country’s most notorious Internet companies, connected to a range of shady Internet businesses allegedly pushing and taking payments from scams including fake anti-virus software and pharmacy spam. ChronoPay has denied involvement in fake antivirus scams, including recent ones targeting Mac users.
Expert security journalist Brian Krebs has covered the firm’s intricate web of operations in a long-running series of blog posts.
The arrest could be evidence Russia is at last making serious efforts to clean up its abysmal reputation as a breeding ground for Internet criminality.
Several weeks ago, Microsoft published a series of ads in Russian newspapers announcing its intention of pursuing those said to be involved with the notorious and now-defunct Rustock botnet, brought down in March.
That previously unthinkable event – that Russians allegedly involved in online criminality might be pursued in their own country with the aid of the law - has hinted that the country’s attitude to its poor image might be evolving.