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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

REvil ransomware gang arrested in Russia


Authorities in Russia say they have dismantled the ransomware crime group REvil and charged several of its members.

Following ransomware attacks, the US offered a reward of up to $10 million (£7.3 million) for information leading to the gang members.

The FSB, Russia’s intelligence agency, declared that the group had “ceased to exist.”

However, it does not appear that any Russian gang members will be extradited to the US.

The agency stated that it acted after receiving information about the REvil gang from the US.

According to the Russian state news agency Tass, REvil “created malicious software” and “organised the theft of money from foreign citizens’ bank accounts.”

The FSB stated that it had seized over 426 million rubles (£4 million), including approximately £440,000 in cryptocurrency.

Piles of money were seized by the FSB

It also seized more than 20 “premium cars” that had been purchased with criminal proceeds.

“The organised criminal association no longer exists, and the information infrastructure used for criminal purposes has been neutralised,” the FSB said in a statement.

Russia’s announcement comes at a time when the US and Russia are at odds.

Moscow is seeking assurances from the West, including that Nato will not expand further. It has also bolstered its forces near the Ukrainian border.

These arrests mark a watershed moment in cybercrime and cyber-relations between the United States and Russia.

For years, Russia has ignored and denied allegations that Russian ransomware hackers are given safe haven in the country from which to attack Western targets.

Last summer, Russia’s President Putin and US President Biden agreed in Geneva to begin discussions about how to combat the scourge of ransomware, but even the most optimistic experts had given up hope that the talks would bear fruit.

The arrest of the REvil gang on Russian soil is a huge result that few could have predicted.

Although it has been largely disbanded since September of last year, REvil was one of the most prolific ransomware gangs, and this arrest sends a strong message to Russian cyber-crime organisations: the party is over.

This is also the first time in years that the United States and Russia have worked together on a cyber-crime operation.

It could indicate a thawing of relations, which is already widely celebrated in the cyber-security community.

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