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Blackshades Leader Alex Yucel Sentenced to Prison for Selling Malware

The leader of a group called Blackshades has been sentenced to prison for distributing software that was used to hack into half a million computers.
/ Source: NBC News

NEW YORK -- The leader of a group called Blackshades was sentenced to 4-3/4 years in prison on Tuesday for distributing software that authorities say was used to hack into half a million computers worldwide. Alex Yucel, a 25-year-old Swede, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan, after pleading guilty in February to distribution of malicious software.

U.S. prosecutors had sought up to 7-1/2 years in prison for Yucel, who was arrested in November 2013 in Moldova and later extradited to the United States. They said he ran the Blackshades organization under the alias "marjinz" and acted as its primary software engineer.

Related: Accused 'Blackshades' Mastermind Alex Yucel Pleads Guilty to Hacking

According to court documents, Blackshades sold and distributed malware to thousands of cybercriminals throughout the world. The organization's flagship product was known as the Blackshades Remote Access Tool, or "RAT," a sophisticated piece of malicious software that enabled cybercriminals to secretly and remotely gain control over a victim's computer.

"Alex Yucel created, marketed, and sold software that was designed to accomplish just one thing — gain control of a computer, and with it, a victim’s identity and other important information," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "This malware victimized thousands of people across the globe and invaded their lives. But Yucel’s computer hacking days are now over."