Law Enforcement Team Arrests Lockbit Ransomware Business Gang

In a groundbreaking international law enforcement operation led by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and the FBI, members of the notorious Lockbit ransomware gang have been arrested and indicted. This unprecedented police action has dealt a significant blow to one of the world’s most infamous cybercrime syndicates.

Ransomware business leadersThe United States has charged two Russian nationals with deploying Lockbit ransomware against companies and groups worldwide. Concurrently, police in Poland and Ukraine have made two additional arrests as part of this coordinated effort.

The NCA, U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, and Europol convened in London to announce the successful disruption of the gang, which has targeted over 2,000 victims globally, amassing more than $120 million in ransom payments and demanding hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the DOJ.

Authorities have seized control of websites utilized by Lockbit, effectively crippling the gang’s operations. Moreover, in an unprecedented move, law enforcement agencies have utilized Lockbit’s own website to release internal data about the group, exposing its infrastructure and modus operandi.

Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Crime Agency, described the operation as a hacking of the hackers, stating, “We have taken control of their infrastructure, seized their source code, and obtained keys that will help victims decrypt their systems.”

Dubbed “Operation Cronos,” the takedown involved a coalition of 10 countries. Biggar emphasized the comprehensive nature of the operation, which has resulted in arrests, indictments, and unprecedented access to Lockbit’s systems.

“As of today, Lockbit is effectively redundant,” Biggar declared. “Lockbit has been locked out.”

Lockbit, however, has yet to respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

The unsealed indictment, originating from New Jersey, charges Artur Sungatov and Ivan Kondratyev, also known as Bassterlord, with using Lockbit ransomware to target victims in various sectors worldwide. Kondratyev faces additional charges related to ransomware use in 2020 against a California-based victim.

Lockbit has caused significant monetary losses totaling billions, according to Biggar, with businesses not only forced to pay ransom but also to bear the costs of system restoration.

Lockbit, operating as a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) group since September 2019, implements a double extortion technique, whereby stolen data is published if the ransom is not paid. The group has targeted organizations globally, with the manufacturing and retail sectors among the most affected.

The international crackdown on Lockbit represents a significant victory in the fight against cybercrime, underscoring the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies worldwide to combat increasingly sophisticated threats in the digital realm.

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