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Russian national charged in ransomware attacks against businesses in US | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

A Russian national has been charged with conspiring to carry out ransomware attacks against businesses in the United States. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a release on Thursday that 20-year-old Ruslan Magomedovich Astamirov was involved in deploying multiple LockBit ransomware and other cyberattacks against computer systems in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Africa. 

Prosecutors allege Astamirov participated in a conspiracy from at least August 2020 to March 2023 with other members of a LockBit ransomware campaign to commit wire fraud and make ransom demands and personally carried out at least five attacks on computers in the U.S. and elsewhere. 

“This LockBit-related arrest, the second in six months, underscores the Justice Department’s unwavering commitment to hold ransomware actors accountable,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said. “In securing the arrest of a second Russian national affiliated with the LockBit ransomware, the Department has once again demonstrated the long arm of the law.” 

Astamirov has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiring to intentionally damage protected computers and to transmit ransom demands. He could face up to 20 years in prison for the first charge and up to five years for the second if convicted. 

LockBit has been a notorious type of ransomware that blocks access to a computer system unless a victim provides a ransom payment. The release states that LockBit first appeared around January 2020, and its actors have carried out more than 1,400 attacks against victims, demanded more than $100 million in ransom and received tens of millions of dollars in payments. 

U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Philip Sellinger said Astamirov is the third defendant to be charged by his office in connection to the LockBit campaign and the second to be apprehended. 

“The LockBit conspirators and any other ransomware perpetrators cannot hide behind imagined online anonymity. We will continue to work tirelessly with all our law enforcement partners to identify ransomware perpetrators and bring them to justice,” Sellinger said. 

The release noted that the DOJ previously announced charges against a dual Russian and Canadian national named Mikhail Vasiliev and Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev in relation to the Lockbit investigation. Vasiliev is in Canadian custody awaiting extradition to the U.S.

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