DOJ Charges Russian Cybercriminal Who Attacked Critical U.S. Infrastructure

( – The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that a Russian citizen was sanctioned and charged for using three ransomware variants to cyberattack some critical U.S. infrastructure. This announcement represents another case where a Russian cybercriminal group decides to target the United States and other Western nations. While experts have been pointing out that these groups are always part of the Kremlin or are backed by it, there have been cases where authorities haven’t been able to prove the connection.

As reported by the DOJ in a news release, authorities charged U.S. resident and Russian national Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev with conspiring to damage protected PCs, to transmit ransom demands, and damaging protected PCs intentionally.

Different reports revealed that a District of New Jersey’s unsealed indictment revealed that he was allegedly part of different conspiracies using variants called Hive, Babuk, and LockBit. Matveev allegedly used each of these platforms to transmit ransom demands, and he even used them to attack thousands of victims in the United States and many other countries. He and others especially targeted people who work in government agencies, schools, law enforcement, and hospitals.

Court documents showed that the group conducted this type of cyberattack on a nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization and even a law enforcement agency in New Jersey between May and June 2022. The group made nearly $400 in their operations.

Another unsealed indictment acquired in the District of Columbia claims that Matveev also took part in plots to send Babuk to battle and to convey a ransom demand. They cited an instance from April 2021 in which the Metropolitan Police Department was the target of ransomware, and the group threatened to release private data to the public unless a payment was made.

DOJ’s Criminal Division assistant attorney general Kenneth Polite said in a statement that these types of international crimes need a coordinated response. He also said the department will always impose the worst consequences against “egregious actors” that are part of the cybercrime world.

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