The US Department of Justice has charged two notorious hackers, a Russian and a Ukrainian, in a spate of “attacks”.
Yaroslav Vasinskyi, a 22-year-old Ukrainian, and 28-year-old Yevgeniy Polyanin, a Russian citizen, are accused of using REvil ransomware to lock down the computer systems of hundreds of US companies. They would then have demanded a ransom to release the data.
One of the suspects was reportedly paid more than $6 million in ransom. The American meat company JBS recently paid 11 million to hackers. In the Netherlands, too, companies are extorted in this way.
“Cybercrime is a serious threat to our country: to our personal safety, to the health of our economy and to our national security,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The Justice Department, together with our partners, will use all means to identify and bring to justice those who target ransomware attacks against the United States. Wherever in the world, those people are.”
The US accuses Vasinskyi of co-authoring the REvil ransomware, which targeted Florida-based software company Kaseya in early July and affected as many as 1,500 companies worldwide. Vasinskyi was arrested in Poland last month at the request of the US, which has now also requested his extradition.
The other suspect, Polyanin, is still at large. He is charged with nearly 3,000 ransomware attacks that have affected many companies in the United States as well as government agencies in the state of Texas, Merrick Garland said.
President Joe Biden yesterday welcomed the charges against both suspects and said cybersecurity is a priority for his administration. “All the strength of the federal government will be used to counter malicious cyber activities and actors.”
The US charges coincided with the arrest of two other suspected ransomware operators in Romania by Europol. Their names were not released, but Europol did say that three other suspects have been located since February. Last month, the White House hosted a virtual, international summit on fighting ransomware that was attended by more than 30 countries.