The US, Canada, and Bulgaria coordinated law enforcement agency recently arrested a Netwalker Ransomware attacker from Canada. The attacker, named Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, was detained while in possession of about $454K in crypto acquired from extortion activities. The joint task force also managed to close down a dark web leak site.
Various parties have used the ransomware tool in extorting people after phishing their data and threatening to make the information public. This year, Chainalysis released a report that showed a group of hackers collaborating to launder money using ransomware tools. The report stated that several hackers with different sets of skills split the proceeds in crypto after practicing extortion.
According to the US Department of Justice, NetWalker has been used to attack schools, hospitals, and government agencies. The tool also uses certain affiliates to show how people can pay their ransom after they are threatened. Not long ago, Bulgarian security took down a similar dark web site.
Law Enforcement’s Fight With Ransomware
On January 27, the US DOJ gave a press release that revealed Global Action’s launch against NetWalker Ransomware. The PR mentioned that attackers had had their focus on the health sector following the emergence of COVID-19. Attackers have taken advantage of the crisis to extort helpless victims.
Nicholas L. McQuaid, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said that ransomware victims should come forward to help DOJ track their money back. He also said his department is working hard to disrupt criminal activities and recover any stolen cash wherever possible.
The FBI is also pulling strings to help out in the fight against ransomware attackers. Special Agent Michael McPherson said the FBI uses international resources and partnerships to track and expose the hackers. He added, “If you are a victim of ransomware, contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip to tips.fbi.gov. You can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.”
Shocking Values Stolen Using Ransomware
Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins was indicted for allegedly stealing over $27.6 million in Florida. Although the arrest looks like a step towards curbing the fraudulent actions, many attackers are still at large.
Chainalysis analyzed how $348.6 million in Bitcoin was transferred through variously known ransomware addresses. The attackers also move these BTC to exchanges to blend them with other cryptos for the sole purpose of hiding the origin of the coins.
CryptoWall, a well-known ransomware-as-a-service program, accumulated an eyebrow-raising 320 million worth of earnings from ransomware activities. Other tools that are commonly used by hackers include Locky and TeslaCrypt.