Russia dismantles hacker group “Revil”

Russia gave the United States unusual help: at the request of the American authorities, the FSB secret service took action against a notorious hacker group.

At the request of the United States, Russia disbanded the notorious hacker group Revil. The illegal activities of the group’s members have been “dismantled after a request from the responsible US authorities”, the Russian domestic intelligence service FSB said on Friday. Among other things, Revil was behind a spectacular and momentous ransomware attack against US software company Kaseya last year.

According to the FSB, it carried out searches at 25 sites in five Russian regions, targeting 14 suspects. According to the FSB, assets worth 4.8 million euros and 20 luxury cars were confiscated during the searches. The agency released videos of arrests but did not comment on the number of people arrested.

Hackers crippled Pipeline

A representative of the US government said she was “satisfied with these first steps”. Also among the suspects is a person responsible for the major hacker attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the eastern United States.

The government official, who asked not to be named, made it clear that Russia’s actions against Revil had nothing to do with handling growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine. “We have always made it very clear that if Russia invades Ukraine again, we will exact a heavy toll on it in cooperation with our allies and partners,” the US administration said.

Brain arrested in the United States

The attack on Kaseya in early July 2021 is estimated to have affected approximately 1,500 businesses in at least 17 countries around the world. The Miami-based company provides IT-services to approximately 40,000 corporate customers worldwide. Following the attack, the Swedish supermarket chain Coop had to temporarily close the majority of its branches due to failing checkout systems.

Late last year the mastermind behind the attack, Ukrainian Yaroslav Wasinskyi, was arrested. The US Department of Justice charged him with fraud and money laundering.

Ransomware is injected software that crashes computers and other systems. The operators are then blackmailed so that the systems can be activated again. The term contains the English word for ransom (“ransom”). According to the US Treasury Department, ransoms of $590 million (€515 million) were paid after such cyberattacks in the first half of 2021 in the US alone.

Cybersecurity was one of the main topics of a summit between US President Joe Biden and Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin last June. The two heads of state promised each other increased cooperation to fight against cybercrime. In July, Biden urged Putin to take action against ransomware groups in Russia. Otherwise, the United States would take “all necessary measures” to protect its citizens.

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