On Thursday (10.11.2022) US and European authorities announced the arrest of a Russian-Canadian citizen in Canada on charges of leading one of the world’s most lucrative data hijacking organizations.
Mikhail Vasiliev had deployed LockBit data hijacking software to carry out attacks against critical infrastructures and large industrial groups around the world, according to a Europol statement, which specified that the sums required were exorbitant: from five to 70 million euros.
The US Department of Justice said in a statement that Vasiliev, 33, is now awaiting extradition to the United States.
If convicted, the detainee faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to disable protected computers and send ransom demands.
“This arrest is the result of more than two and a half years of investigation within the LockBit ransomware group, which has caused numerous victims in the United States and the world,” said Lisa Monaco, the Department of Justice’s number two.
The statement added that Vasiliev was arrested on October 26 in the province of Ontario, Canada, as a result of an investigation conducted by the French National Gendarmerie with the support of Europol, the Royal Canadian Gendarmerie and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The document says the arrest follows an operation in Ukraine in October that led to the arrest of two of its accomplices.
According to a complaint against Vasiliev in New Jersey, LockBit, which first appeared in 2020, has caused nearly 1,000 victims in the United States and other countries and several tens of millions of dollars in ransom.
gs (afp, ap)