The FBI has at least temporarily dismantled the network of a prolific ransomware gang it infiltrated last year, saving victims including hospitals and school districts a potential $130 million in ransom payments, Attorney General Merrick Garland and other U.S. officials announced Thursday.
“Simply put, using lawful means we hacked the hackers,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said at a news conference.
Officials said the targeted syndicate, known as Hive, operates one of the world’s top five ransomware networks. The FBI quietly gained access to its control panel in July and was able to obtain software keys to decrypt the network of some 1,300 victims globally, said FBI Director Christopher Wray. Officials credited German police and other international partners.
It was not immediately clear how the takedown will affect Hive’s long-term operations, however. Officials did not announce any arrests but said they were building a map of Hive’s administrators, who manage the software, and affiliates, who infect targets and negotiate with victims, to pursue prosecutions.“I think anyone involved with Hive should be concerned because this investigation is ongoing,” Wray said.
On Wednesday night, FBI agents seized computer infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used to support the network. Hive’s dark web site was also seized.
“Cybercrime is a constantly evolving threat, but as I have said before, the Justice Department will spare no resource to bring to justice anyone anywhere that targets the United States with a ransomware attack,” Wray said.
Garland said that thanks to the infiltration, led by the FBI’s Tampa office, agents were able in one instance to disrupt a Hive attack against a Texas school district, stopping it from making a $5 million pa ..
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