Two US residents have been arrested and accused of conspiring with Russian nationals to hack the taxi dispatch system at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), charging cab drivers a $10 price to entry the entrance of the queue between September 2019 and September 2021.

Daniel Abayev and Peter Leyman (each 48 and from Queens, New York) first efficiently hacked the dispatch system in 2019 with the assistance of unnamed Russian nationals, in response to a DOJ indictment filed within the Southern District of New York. Leyman and Abayev accessed the system to maneuver particular taxis to the entrance of the road, says the DOJ, charging drivers a $10 price for the privilege. Members of the hacking scheme additionally provided to waive the $10 price in trade for recruiting extra taxi drivers.

The JFK taxi dispatch system ensures cab drivers have a good working atmosphere, however can lead to prolonged wait occasions between journeys

The computer-controlled JFK taxi dispatch system manages how cabs are dispatched between the airport’s holding lot and terminal. The system was launched to create a good working atmosphere, however wait occasions of a number of hours can affect a taxi driver’s each day earnings.

The hackers utilized group chats to speak with taxi drivers and advise them tips on how to keep away from detection by legislation enforcement. According to the indictment, Leyman and Abayev accredited as many as 1,000 journeys a day and transferred not less than $100,000 to the hackers in Russia as “payment for software development.”

Prosecutors allege that the pair explored a number of methods to hack the system, together with bribing somebody to contaminate its computer systems with malware by way of a flash drive, stealing related pc tablets, and accessing the dispatch system with out authorization by way of Wi-Fi. The indictment claims that members of the hacking scheme additionally despatched messages to one another by which they explicitly mentioned their intention to hack the dispatch system. “I know that the Pentagon is being hacked[.]. So, can’t we hack the taxi industry[?]” Abayev messaged a Russian conspirator in November 2019.

Both males face a most 10-year sentence in jail if discovered responsible for his or her alleged cybercrimes

“For years, the defendants’ hacking kept honest cab drivers from being able to pick up fares at JFK in the order in which they arrived,” mentioned U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in an announcement. “Now, thanks to this Office’s teamwork with the Port Authority, these defendants are facing serious criminal charges for their alleged cybercrimes.”

Both males have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit pc intrusion, which carries a most 10-year sentence in jail if confirmed responsible.

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