LockBit Ransomware Operation Shut Down; Criminals Arrested; Decryption Keys Released

By neub9
2 Min Read

Feb 20, 2024NewsroomRansomware / Data Protection

The U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) has obtained the source code of LockBit and intelligence about its activities and affiliates as part of “Operation Cronos.”

The agency revealed that some of the data on LockBit’s systems belonged to victims who had paid a ransom, indicating that the threat actors do not always delete data even when the ransom is paid. NCA also reported the arrest of two LockBit actors in Poland and Ukraine, along with the freezing of over 200 cryptocurrency accounts linked to the group.

The U.S. Department of Justice also unsealed indictments against two Russian nationals accused of carrying out LockBit attacks. Artur Sungatov and Ivan Gennadievich Kondratiev (aka Bassterlord) are both alleged to have deployed LockBit against numerous victims in the U.S. and around the world.

Kondratyev has been charged with criminal counts arising from his use of the Sodinokibi ransomware variant. The NCA described LockBit as the “world’s most harmful cyber crime group” and revealed that they have disrupted the cybercrime group’s operations by taking control of its infrastructure and obtaining decryption keys.

LockBit, a ransomware group that operates a “ransomware-as-a-service” scheme, has been known for using double extortion tactics to steal and encrypt sensitive data and pressure victims into making ransom payments in exchange for decrypting their files.

The cybercriminals behind LockBit have also experimented with new methods, including “triple extortion,” to pressure their victims into paying ransoms. Authorities have seized the infrastructure used to organize and transfer victim data, and a decryption tool is available to recover files encrypted by LockBit at no cost. NCA Director General Graeme Biggar said they have “hacked the hackers” and damaged the group’s capability and credibility.

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