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LockBit Ransomware Mastermind Is Arrested - Talion

LockBit are a ransomware gang that have certainly made a name for themselves in the cyber security space over the last few years. Having carried out arguably the most destructive cyber attacks across the world, from infecting an IT supplier of the UK National Health Service to PR stunts against cyber security giants, it’s no surprise that the investigation to hunt these cybercriminals has been on the go for many years.

Now? An alleged LockBit suspect has been arrested.

Here’s everything you need to know…


2 Years Of Investigation Leads To Arrest

A 33 year-old dual Russian and Canadian national, named Mikhail Vasiliev, was arrested in Canada on 26th October 2022 after being suspected of “deploying the LockBit ransomware to carry out attacks against critical infrastructure and large industrial groups across the world,” said Europol. Known for extorting victims with ransom demands as high as €70 million, this LockBit operator was a high value target and his arrest is a significant moment in the fight to reduce ransomware attacks worldwide.

Suspicions of Mikhail Vasiliev’s criminal conduct began in August 2022 following the search of his home. As stated in a criminal complaint form, Canadian law enforcement found screenshots of messages on the Tox end-to-end encrypted messaging platform under the name “LockBitSupp”, as well as source code for a program designed to encrypt data. Even usernames and passwords of LockBit victims from Canada were stored, back from a LockBit attack around January time. In light of this, law enforcement seized 8 computers, 32 external hard drives, 2 firearms and €400,000 worth of cryptocurrency from the suspect’s home.

“This arrest is the result of over two-and-a-half-years of investigation into the LockBit ransomware group, which has harmed victims in the United States and around the world,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “It is also a result of more than a decade of experience that FBI agents, Justice Department prosecutors, and our international partners have built dismantling cyber threats.”

Currently, Mikhail Vasiliev awaits extradition to the United States. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years of incarceration, due to being charged with conspiracy to intentionally damage protected computers and to transmit ransom demands.




LockBit In The Past…

You may already be aware of LockBit attacks from the past year, but we’ve covered a few of the most prolific:

Disruption to NHS 111 line – In August 2022, a major IT outage to a vendor in the healthcare space caused the NHS 111 services to go down, forcing call handlers to work back how they did before the digital world – with pen and paper. Attackers allegedly gained access using Citrix server credentials and, although the likelihood of harm to individuals was considered low, approximately 16 institutions were affected by LockBit’s malware.

Top Aces – This exclusive adversary air provider to the Canadian and German armed forces was another of the unfortunate LockBit victims this year. Displayed on the leak site for all to see, Top Aces were given a deadline of May 15th before LockBit would leak 44GB of data it allegedly stole.

The Classic LockBit Stunt – LockBit are known for having “attacked” companies, claiming stolen data when there is no evidence they actually executed it. Their targets are usually cyber security giants, with a goal to scare customers and ruin reputation. Of course, there is no denying the attacks that do take place, with 35.1% of ransomware activity in Q3 2022 linked to LockBit, but it sure is an interesting PR stunt to illude people into “real” cybercriminal activity.


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