online ransom demand, a professional art

Isolated hackers or networks scattered around the planet, infiltrate the data of their targets to rescue them. For some, inspired by the world of technology, cybercrime has become a business like any other.

Smashed doors, handcuffed men, nailed to the ground. The dismantling of the had to be exemplary. On Friday, January 14, the Russian security services reported the results of twenty-five muscle raids, carried out at the request of the American FBI: 14 arrests and the seizure of twenty luxury cars, more than 6 million euros in cash and various cryptocurrencies. wallets

The video of the operation, shot with a handheld camera, was . An advert ? Placed in pretrial detention, eight suspects were brought before judges last February in Moscow. Russian justice accuses them of having organized a series of “ransomware” attacks against dozens of targets around the world, including the Colonial Pipeline, the largest oil pipeline in Texas, in May 2021, or even and the Taiwanese manufacturer, Acer.

Genuine Franchises

Accused of turning a blind eye to the existence of these groups, the countries of the former Soviet bloc are now home to a large community of hackers. “Some malware, like LockBit, is known not to attack Cyrillic sites,” said Alban Ondrejeck, a former military intelligence officer and co-founder of Anozr Way, a cyber defense consulting firm.

This tropism is explained both by the educational level of these countries, which train excellent computer engineers, and by the region’s mediocre economic prospects. “The Russian computer engineer who is offered a monthly salary of 600 euros per month will be tempted to switch to hacking, which is much more lucrative”, .

Russia is not the only country that gives asylum to these criminals. In a message posted on its site on February 28, LockBit claims members in China, the United States, and Canada. “Our servers are located in the Netherlands and the Seychelles”, the administrators of the group, which declares itself apolitical, say.

The most structured organizations[…]


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