The United States said it “welcomed” news from Russia on Friday that security forces there had arrested hackers linked to the devastating REvil ransomware gang, officials from both countries confirmed.
“We understand that one of those arrested today was responsible for the attack on the Colonial Pipeline last spring,” a senior Biden administration official said of an incident that led to gas shortages on the East Coast of the United States.
The Russian Federal Security Service FSB announced the arrest of the hackers. In addition to the pipeline hack, REvil is said to be behind the cyber attack on Kaseya over the weekend of July 4 last year, which devastated over 1,000 businesses worldwide, including a Swedish supermarket chain. .
A source told Reuters that the group could also be linked to a cyberattack last year that targeted Brazilian meat processor JBS SA.
What did the FSB do?
The FSB searched 25 addresses and arrested 14 hackers involved in REvil.
In doing so, the FSB seized more than 426 million rubles ($5.6 million or €4.9 million) in cash, cryptocurrency, computers and cars.
The REvil hackers arrested by the FSB face charges of “illegal circulation of funds” and face up to seven years in prison.
Russian channel REN TV broadcast footage of officers pinning suspects to the ground and looting heaps of cash in dollars and rubles before taking them away during raids.
While the FSB did not name those arrested, a Moscow court named two of the accused, Roman Muromsky and Andrei Bessonov. Both were sentenced to two months in prison.
The FSB said the operation was carried out at the request of US authorities, who called for the group’s leader to be arrested. It is the first action of this kind since the meeting between Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden in Geneva last summer.
ReEvil members took millions in ransom payments
When US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced indictments against two REvil members last November, he said the cyberattacks carried out by REvil cost computer users around the world at least $200 million in ransom payments.
Although the Russian government has taken responsibility for taking down the REvil ransomware gang, cybersecurity experts say the group actually did so on its own last year. Members of the group have moved on to new cases, and the arrests in no way signal a broader crackdown on hackers in Russia, these experts said.
The news comes on the same day that Ukraine’s government websites were defaced and US officials separately warned that Russia could stage a “false flag” incident as a pretext for invading Ukraine.
While the US and EU have not credited Friday’s cyberattack, Ukraine’s security agency SBU said initial findings of its investigation pointed to “hacker groups with ties to Russian intelligence.”
The events come at the end of a long week of intense diplomacy centered on Russia and Ukraine, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov meeting with US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman in Geneva earlier in the week before heading to Brussels to meet to meet with NATO and the organization . for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
ar/wd (TBEN, TBEN, Reuters)
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