U.S. Feds Arrest Two Hackers Who Allegedly Exposed 1 Billion Emails to Spam

American authorities have charged three men for their alleged involvement in what is perhaps the largest computer security breach not only in U.S. history, but in the history of the Internet itself.

According to a March 10 BBC News report, two Vietnamese men allegedly hacked into email providers, stealing one billion email addresses and profiting by flooding spam messages into tens of millions of inboxes.

The third man charged allegedly helped the two hackers launder the money made through their illicit spamming scheme.

The Department of Justice allegations state that between 2009 and 2012, Viet Quoc Nguyen, 28, a Vietnamese citizen operating out of the Netherlands, and Giang Hoang Vu, 25, of Vietnam, hacked into eight different email providers to obtain more than one billion email addresses.

The two men used their access to these email accounts to make millions of dollars, both from sending spam to these addresses and from websites that paid to direct traffic to their site via junk messages. It’s estimated that nine out of every 1,000 computers in the world are currently infected with spam; additionally, 85% of the world’s total email traffic is spam. Nguyen and Vu’s spam emails typically tried to make users pay for software they could ordinarily get for free.

David-Manuel Santos Da Silva, 33, of Montreal, Canada, allegedly assisted Nguyen and Vu with laundering the money earned from this spamming practice. On March 4, a federal grand jury charged Da Silva with conspiracy to commit money laundering, a March 6 article from the UK Register reports.

Authorities have arrested Vu, who was extradited to the U.S. from the Netherlands, and Da Silva, while Nguyen is a fugitive and still at large, according to the Register. Vu has pled guilty to charges of computer fraud, and Da Silva is expected to be arraigned later this week.

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