For years, the notorious Russian-based criminal gang REvil has been ruthlessly attacking targets. Last May, the group, along with its subsidiaries, halted production Meat supplier JBS, net itself 11 million dollars when paying the ransom. Two months later it Thousands of companies disabled because it exploited a vulnerability in the update mechanism of the IT service provider Kaseya. REvil’s attacks have largely gone unpunished – until now.

In an unprecedented move that is likely to cause ripples through the inner circles of other Russia-based cybercriminal gangs, the country’s security agency has arrested 14 suspected members of REvil. This was announced by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on Friday, according to reports by the independent Russian news agency interfax and a press release from FSB officials. It is the first significant measure against ransomware gangs that the Russian government has taken after years of ignoring international pressure.

“Revil, and particularly its leading operator Unknown, has long felt they could operate with impunity. This arrest shows that even ransomware groups operating in Russia are not untouchable,” said Allan Liska, a ransomware analyst at security firm Recorded Future. “I think it shows that ransomware groups are safe as long as they’re useful, but once they’re no longer useful, they could end up in jail.”

REvil disappeared from the radar in July under intense scrutiny, only to return a few months later. But the revival was short-lived as an international law enforcement effort knocked the group offline again in October.

During Friday’s arrests, officials from the FSB and the Department of Interior Ministry seized computer equipment, 20 luxury cars and more than $5.5 million in rubles and cryptocurrency. Law enforcement also took control of the cryptocurrency wallets used by the suspects and stole nearly $1.2 million in foreign cash holdings.

The names of the suspects were not given, but the arrests took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Lipetsk region south of the Russian capital. Officials said the arrests were for “illegal dealings in currency” and claimed their actions paralyzed REvil.

“The organized criminal community ceased to exist, the information infrastructure used for criminal purposes was neutralized,” read a translated version of the statement by the FSB. Reports from Russia claim the FSB took action at the request of the United States; In August, President Joe Biden told Vladimir Putin he needed to crack down on cybercriminals operating in Russia.


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