DOJ Shuts Down International Ransomware Operation

DOJ Shuts Down International Ransomware Operation

( – The United States Justice Department has struck a major blow against cybercrime. Attorney General Merrick Garland revealed on January 26 that federal agents shut down an international ransomware gang. The hackers were behind hundreds of attacks on targets that included US hospitals.

Ransomware is one of the biggest cyber threats to businesses. Attackers install software on the target’s computers that either steal data or uses cryptography to block access to it. The criminals then demand a ransom in exchange for removing the software. Ransomware attacks cost businesses billions of dollars every year — and they’ve also been used as weapons by countries like Russia.

AG Garland said during a press conference that FBI agents infiltrated the HIVE group, which attacked a hospital in the Midwest in 2021, last year. Agents were able to disrupt HIVE attacks by obtaining the group’s decryption keys and passing them on to victims, allowing access to unlock frozen data without paying. Officials foiled more than 300 attacks using this tactic.

Now, it’s gone a step further. EUROPOL set up a joint operation against the gang, called Operation Dawnbreaker, and the FBI played a key part in it. Counter-hackers seized control of servers used by HIVE and took over the group’s websites. Officials changed the pages to read — in Russian — “The Federal Bureau of Investigation seized this site as part of a coordinated law enforcement action taken against Hive Ransomware.” Under the message were the logos of the FBI, Justice Department, EUROPOL, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office, and other police forces.

The HIVE gang hasn’t just been shut down. It’s been publicly humiliated. Key members are still on the loose — and they could soon be back, with new software. This is a victory, but ransomware is a threat that isn’t going to go away.

~Here’s to Your Prosperity!

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