Listen to this story
The United States Department of Justice announced the arrest of a Russian and Canadian national charged due to his involvement in the LockBit global ransomware campaign. The announcement carried the name of the culprit, Mikhail Vasiliev, 33, who was found in Bradford, Ontario, Canada.
Vasiliev is presently held in custody in Canada and will be extradited to the United States. He is arrested on the counts of criminal conspiracy and damaging protected computers, among others. He faces a maximum of five years in prison upon conviction and a maximum fine of $250,000 (£215,000). Any sentence will be decided by a federal court judge based on the US sentencing guidelines.
Deputy attorney general Lisa O. Monaco said in the announcement, “Let this be yet another warning to ransomware actors: working with partners around the world, the Department of Justice will continue to disrupt cyber threats and hold perpetrators to account. With our partners, we will use every available tool to disrupt, deter, and punish cyber criminals.” Speaking about the ongoing effort of the various legal departments, FBI deputy director Paul Abbate said, “Yesterday’s successful arrest demonstrates our ability to maintain and apply relentless pressure against our adversaries.”
The arrest was a result of a two-and-a-half year of investigation and the experience of over a decade of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Justice Department prosecutors, and international partners. The FBI has been investigating the gang since March 2020.
The LockBit ransomware group
The LockBit ransomware recently threatened to publish the stolen data of the German automotive parts manufacturing company Continental AG.
The ransomware group appeared in January 2020, according to the court and targeted over 1000 entities in several countries, including the United States of America, India, Ukraine, France, and China. The number of ransomware attacks launched by the gang crossed over 1000, making over $100 million for the group.