(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google failed to persuade a judge to issue a default judgment against two Russians accused of operating a botnet that allegedly hacked into more than a million computers and devices worldwide.
Google had requested that Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov be found liable without a trial, claiming they had failed to reply to the lawsuit within legal time limits.
Google told the judge it sent the Russians letters, emails and texts notifying them of the lawsuit. Google said the lawsuit was also reported by BBC Russia and Novaya Gazeta. But the men claim they didn’t find out about the lawsuit until January and it took some time to translate the complaint and find a Russian-speaking attorney in the U.S. to represent them.
“As improbable as it may be” that the Russians missed Google’s various attempts to notify them, “there remains a dispute” over whether they knew about the lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote wrote in a 33-page ruling Monday, rejecting Google’s request for a default judgment.
Google sued the men along with 15 unnamed defendant in federal court in Manhattan in December. It claimed they had created the Glubteba botnet, which it described as a “technological and borderless incarnation of organized crime.”
According to Google, the botnet stole account information from the company’s customers and access to the accounts was sold, along with credit cards that were used to pay for Google services. The defendants also allegedly hijacked infected computers to mine cryptocurrencies.
The men had asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the case didn’t belong in New York because it didn’t involve anyone in the state.
Cote rejected that argument. She noted that the Glubteba botnet had -- according to Google -- infected at least 1,000 devices in New York City.
“By allegedly infecting New York devices with malware and continuing to issue those devices commands,” the defendants have established a “continuing relationship” with New Yorkers, she wrote.
The case is Google LLC v. Starovikov, 21-cv-10260-DLC, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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