Federal prosecutors have charged a unilateral Russian and Canadian citizen with involvement in a global campaign to spread ransomware dubbed LockBit.
Mikhail Vasiliev, 33, from Bradford, Ontario, Canada, was detained in the late month of October in Ontario by authorities at Interpol confirmed. He is currently detained in Canada and is now in the process of being deported to the US.
Federal prosecutors claimed that Vasiliev was helping to infect networks across the globe by using LockBit. However, officials from Europol claimed that he’s one of the top law enforcement agencies’ targets due to the large number of ransomware attacks that have been well-known in which he participated.
LockBit was first noticed in September 2019. It quickly became a standout, while most of them are operated manually, LockBit largely automated its tasks, enabling it to spread without human oversight after the initial breach. It was used on over 1,000 organizations across the US as well as around the world. In addition, LockBit is available on forums for brokers underground that typically require sellers to pay a deposit. Customers can only be reimbursed if the products work according to the specifications. As a sign of their faith and determination in their commitment to the product, LockBit vendors had paid more than $75,000 as of May 2020.
Ransomware programs today, LockBit operates under a dual extortion plan. First, if victims don’t pay, they are denied access to gigabytes or Terabytes of files and have their data circulating through the internet known as “the dark Web,” which anyone can access.
Vasiliev is accused of deliberately conspiring to damage computers and send ransomware. If he is convicted, he could face up to five years ‘ imprisonment. However, it’s unclear if and when the defendant will plead an agreement to plead guilty in court.
Vasiliev was detained by Canadian Mounted Police, who were assisted by investigators of the French Gendarmerie, the FBI, and EUROPOL’s European Cybercrime Center. The police seized two guns, eight computers, 32 hard drives, and around $405,000 worth of cryptocurrency. Authorities have been looking into LockBit since the beginning of 2020.