Ukrainian cuffed, faces extradition to US for allegedly orchestrating Kaseya ransomware infection

American, European officials announce raft of arrests, indictments, sanctions, rewards


In a major ransomware bust US and European authorities on Monday announced separate but related indictments and arrests linked to extortionware attacks on IT service provider Kaseya and other firms.

In Europe

Europol said Romanian police last week arrested two individuals suspected of involvement in cyberattacks that utilized the Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware. The unidentified individuals are said to have played a role in at least 5,000 malware infections that brought them half a million Euros in ransom payments.

The arrests, the European police agency said, are part of Operation GoldDust, which spanned 17 countries. In February, Euro cops nabbed three other individuals said to be affiliated with Sodinokibi/REvil and two people suspected of involvement with a ransomware family known as GandCrab.

In America

Meanwhile, the US Justice Department on Monday held a press conference at which officials announced the seizure of $6.1m in ransomware payments and the indictment of two individuals, Ukrainian national Yaroslav Vasinskyi and Russian national Yevgeniy Polyanin, for allegedly conducting Sodinokibi/REvil attacks.

Vasinskyi, 22, was charged on August 11 in a now-unsealed indictment [PDF] with 11 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit fraud and to commit money laundering and intentional damage to a protected computer. After entering Poland on October 8, he was arrested, and the US is seeking his extradition.

Kaseya, the IT service provider thoroughly owned by REvil this year, is said to be among Vasinskyi's victims.

Polyanin, 28, was charged on August 24 in a now unsealed indictment [PDF] with 14 similar felony counts. He remains at large, and has had millions of dollars in funds, said to be traced to ransom payments, seized.

"The arrest of Yaroslav Vasinskyi, the charges against Yevgeniy Polyanin and seizure of $6.1 million of his assets, and the arrests of two other Sodinokibi/REvil actors in Romania are the culmination of close collaboration with our international, US government and especially our private sector partners," said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement.

"Our message to ransomware criminals is clear: If you target victims here, we will target you," said US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, in a statement. "The Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware group attacks companies and critical infrastructures around the world, and today’s announcements showed how we will fight back."

The US Treasury Department has issued sanctions against Vasinskyi and Polyanin, as well as four cryptocurrency businesses: Chatex, for facilitating ransomware transactions, and IZIBITS OU, Chatextech SIA, and Hightrade Finance Ltd, for providing the infrastructure that enabled Chatex.

The Biden administration has made a concerted effort to target cybercriminals who use ransomware to disrupt US commerce and infrastructure. So far, while US allies have tried to coordinate their enforcement operations, China and Russia haven't shown similar enthusiasm for cooperating.

Nonetheless, some progress is being made. For example, South Korean authorities recently extradited a Russian national said to be involved with Trickbot, a banking trojan with ransomware capabilities.

The US Department of State on Monday announced "a reward of up to $10m for information leading to the identification or location of any individual holding a key leadership position in the Sodinokibi ransomware variant transnational organized crime group." And there's an additional $5m offered for information that leads to an arrest and/or conviction.

The Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware, implicated in the attack on Kaseya, is also said to have been used against JBS Foods.

The State Department last week made a similar $10m/$5m reward offer for information leading to the identification of location and to the arrest and/or conviction of the leaders of the DarkSide ransomware operation, which is said to have been used to attack the Colonial Pipeline Company in May 2021. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021