LockBit ransomware suspect nabbed in Canada, faces charges in the US

LockBit ransomware suspect nabbed in Canada, faces charges in the US

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Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged a dual Russian and Canadian national for his alleged participation in a global campaign to spread ransomware known as LockBit.

Mikhail Vasiliev, 33, of Bradford, Ontario, Canada, was taken into custody in late October by authorities in Ontario, officials at Interpol said. He is now in custody in Canada awaiting extradition to the US.

Federal prosecutors alleged Vasiliev helped infect networks around the world with LockBit. Officials with Europol said he is among the law enforcement group’s highest-value targets because of the large number of high-profile ransomware attacks he was involved in.

LockBit was first seen in September 2019 and very quickly stood out among competing ransomware families. Whereas most are manually operated, LockBit largely automated its tasks, a trait that allowed it to propagate with minimal human oversight following the initial point of compromise. To date, it has been used against more than 1,000 organizations in the US and around the world.

LockBit is sold in underground broker forums that often require sellers to put up a deposit that customers can recover in the event that the wares don’t perform as advertised. In a testament to their confidence and determination, the LockBit sellers had paid out almost $75,000 as of May 2020.

​​September 2021 arrest of two of his accomplices.

Authorities have been investigating LockBit since early 2020.

The “successful arrest demonstrates our ability to maintain and apply relentless pressure against our adversaries,” said FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate. “The FBI’s persistent investigative efforts, in close collaboration with our federal and international partners, illustrates our commitment to using all of our resources to ensure we protect the American public from these global cyber threat actors.”

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