The first Cypriot hacker extradited to the US, pleaded guilty to blackmailing major US site providers with stolen data users. Joshua Polloso Epifaniou was a teenager when he started hacking sites, stealing data and threatening to leak it if victims refused to pay ransom.
The 21-year-old Cypriot hacker, resident of Nicosia, was arrested by the Cypriot authorities in February 2018. In July 2020, Epifaniou was extradited to the United States to face charges in both Georgia and Arizona.
According to US authorities, at least from October 2014 to November 2016, Epifaniou was searching for website traffic rankings to identify targets for blackmail. He then collaborated with conspirators to steal personally identifiable information from databases users and customers who belonged to victim sites.
Among the sites violated by the Cypriot hacker, a free one is included online game publisher based in California, a company hardware New York, a Virginia-based employment site, a Phoenix-based consumer reporting site, and a website Atlanta, Georgia - based sports news Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
To steal data, Epifaniou either took immediate advantage vulnerabilities at the victims' sites, or received a piece of data from a conspirator who had network of the victims. Epifaniou then used a proxy servers located in foreign countries, to connect to accounts email and send messages to victims, demanding ransom to cryptobodies to prevent leaked data.
On January 25, the Northern Georgia Region announced that Epifaniou had pleaded guilty to infringement many large US-based sites, stealing user data and requiring site operators to pay a ransom to prevent their notification.
According to Infosecurity Magazine, the Cypriot hacker paid about $ 600.000 in compensation to the victims. It also agreed to give an additional $ 389.113 and about € 70.000 to the US government. His trial is scheduled for March 3, 2021.