The Russian security service FSB has said it has dismantled hacker group REvil. Members of the group have been arrested and property seized, including twenty cars and 426 million rubles (almost 5 million euros). The arrests were made at the request of the United States.

The hacker group is suspected of thousands of ransomware attacks, in which company files are ‘held hostage’ until large ransoms are paid. In the US, a major pipeline, Apple and meat processor JBS were among the targets of REvil, which stands for Ransomware Evil. Dutch companies have also been victims of REvil.

Last year, European police forces were able to track down and arrest at least five hackers. Since the US pipeline was shut down, the US has stepped up its fight against REvil: for example, a bounty of almost 10 million euros was offered for information leading to the arrest of REvil leaders.

The FSB says it has mapped REvil’s leadership with the help of US intelligence. The US has been informed about the operation, the Russian secret service writes in a press release. Reuters news agency reports based on an anonymous source that the arrested hackers will not be handed over to the US.

Tensions with West

The news of the dismantling of the Russian hacker group comes amid mounting tensions between Russia and the US over Russia’s troop build-up along the border with Ukraine and Russia’s demands on the US and NATO. Several difficult talks between the West and Russia took place over the past week. The meetings turned out to be fruitless: no concrete commitments leading to de-escalation were made.

The US suspects Russia of involvement in the international cyber attacks. The Kremlin has always denied that hacker groups like REvil are affiliated with the Russian government. Last summer, President Biden called on his counterpart Putin to do more against Russian hackers.

Precisely today, several Ukrainian government websites are down due to a cyber attack. Ukraine takes into account that Russia is behind the attack.

How does a ransomware attack actually work? In this video we explain:

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