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US announces arrest, crackdown in REvil ransomware attacks

The US Justice Department announced Monday the arrest of one alleged cyber-criminal and the indictment of another after a “significant, wide-ranging” cyber-attack on US companies and several US municipalities, including law enforcement agencies.

At a press conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that a ransomware attack on the multi-national information software company Kaseya, and its customers, last summer, was part of 1,500 ransomware attacks that netted $70 million in payments to unlock infected computer systems.

Garland said 22-year-old Ukrainian Yaroslav Vasinskyi was charged just six weeks after the attack on the Miami-based Kaseya. Garland said Vasinskyi crossed the border from Ukraine to Poland in early October and was promptly arrested by authorities there. He now awaits extradition to the US.

In addition, the Justice Department announced the indictment of a Russian national, Yevgeniy Polyanin, and the seizing of millions of dollars, in an attack he allegedly carried out on American companies, and local municipalities, mostly in the US state of Texas.

Polyanin is not yet under arrest, but FBI Director Christopher Wray said Polyanin, who was “hiding” in Russia, “woke up and found $6.1 million he had extorted from his victims, missing”, after it had been seized by federal authorities. In total, the Justice Department said Polyanin extorted $13 million in cyber-attacks.

In Monday’s announcement, the Justice Department pointed out the damage REvil had inflicted since it first surfaced three years, infecting 175,000 computers world-wide, while extorting, then laundering, millions of dollars in ransom, and endangering lives and jobs.

Attorney General Garland and FBI Director Wray also implored companies that have been hit by cyber-attacks to quickly come forward and report them, to give authorities a better chance at finding the perpetrators. They praised Kaseya for coming forward quickly after it was attacked.

And US authorities also touted a “relentless” coordinated effort within US law enforcement agencies, and among governments world-wide, to bring cyber-criminals to justice, and return their stolen funds to victims.

Wray praised Poland as a “terrific partner” for arresting Vasinskyi adding, “The long arm of the law reaches a lot longer than (cyber-criminals) think.”

“I can’t get into the specifics of why Mr. Vasinskyi traveled (to Poland),” said Wray, “but boy, are we glad he did.”

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