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US accuses 2 men of major ransomware attacks

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Updated November 8, 2021, 4:03 p.m. ET

The Justice Department said authorities indicted two men in a wave of ransomware attacks that, among other targets, shut down a meat processing company and an internet software provider earlier this year. .

Attorney General Merrick Garland said one of the men, Yaroslav Vasinskyi, 22, a Ukrainian, was arrested on his way to Poland. The second man has been identified as Yevgeniy Polyanin, a 28-year-old Russian. Garland says the United States seized some $ 6.1 million from Polyanin.

The pair are believed to be part of an organized criminal group called REvil, which carries out ransomware attacks that encrypt corporate data and demand payments to unlock it.

Polyanin would be abroad, according to the department.

Garland asserted that “the US government will continue to aggressively pursue the entire ransomware ecosystem and increase our nation’s resilience to cyber threats.”

In a statement, President Biden said: “When I met President Putin in June, I made it clear that the United States would take action to hold cybercriminals accountable. This is what we did today.

The president added that while much work remains to be done, “we have taken important steps to strengthen our critical infrastructure against cyber attacks, hold accountable those who threaten our security, and work with our allies and partners around the world to disrupt ransomware networks. “

The Justice Department said Vasinskyi was responsible for the July 2 ransomware attack on Kaseya, “which resulted in the encryption of data on the computers of organizations around the world that used Kaseya software.”

It indicates that Vasinskyi and Polyanin are indicted in separate indictments of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activities in connection with computers, material counts of damage to protected computers and conspiracy to commit fraud. sight of committing money laundering. If convicted on all counts, each faces a maximum sentence of 115 and 145 years in prison, respectively.

Earlier this year, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco launched a task force to tackle the significant and growing problem of ransomware, which has targeted hospitals, 911 call centers, local law enforcement agencies and private companies.

In an interview with NPR, Monaco said his team was moving quickly to track money – and using multiple tools, not just arrests.

“We went to get the cryptocurrency that was paid in ransom by the victims here, and we went and we traced it and we seized it, and now we can return that money to the victims,” ​​he said. declared Monaco. “We are using all of our authorities, and we are doing it on a scale and at a speed that we have never done before.”

The State Department, meanwhile, announced it was offering a $ 10 million reward for any information that could identify or locate “anyone in key leadership position” in the organized criminal ransomware group. REvil, also known as Sodinokibi. It offers a $ 5 million reward for information “leading to the arrest and / or conviction in any country of any person conspiring to participate or attempting to participate in a Sodinokibi variant ransomware incident”.

The Biden administration is pressuring Congress to pass a new law that would create a national standard for reporting cyber incidents, including the requirement to notify the Department of Justice. Monaco said such a step is essential to help investigators track cybercriminals and prevent the next victim.

“It is essential that we get this information, this cooperation very quickly from the victims so that we can work to stop the next attack,” Monaco said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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