Arrested in Canada: Accused LockBit Ransomware Operator. Mikhail Vasiliev, a Russian-Canadian, could spend up to five years in prison in the US.
Ontario police detained a dual citizen of Canada and Russia for serving as a member of the LockBit ransomware-as-a-service group. Mikhail Vasiliev, a resident of Bradford, Ontario, is now in danger of being extradited to the US. The federal prosecutors in New Jersey have made public a criminal complaint charging him with conspiring to commit computer intrusion.
Since at least January 2020, LockBit has been one of the most active ransomware organizations. It is frequently predicted to succeed Conti, the most known digital extortion group in the world.
According to the complaint, Vasiliev, 33, was arrested on October 26 in the garage of his house while using a laptop with open online browser tabs. This includes one for a website called “LockBit Login”. If found guilty, he could spend up to five years in jail and be fined up to $250,000 or double the amount of gross profit from his ransomware operations, whichever is higher. According to the Canadian newspaper The National Post, Vasiliev appeared in court on the extradition request on Thursday, but the hearing was postponed until the following week. According to the newspaper, he is out on bail and under GPS location monitoring.
According to the complaint, Canadian authorities previously searched Vasiliev’s electronic devices in August. And found screenshots of encrypted conversations he had exchanged with a user by the name of “LockBitSupp” on the Tox platform. Along with the source code for a programme intended to encrypt Linux-based systems, the devices also looked to contain instructions on how to deploy the LockBit encryptor. According to the complaint, investigators discovered that LockBit members had attempted to upgrade their encryptor so that it could run on the open-source operating system.
According to a statement from Europol, during the raid in October, authorities discovered Vasiliev in possession of two guns, eight laptops, 32 external hard drives, and bitcoin worth €400,000. Together with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, investigators from the French National Gendarmerie, and the FBI. And the European Cybercrime Centre Europol looked into Vasiliev. An RCMP spokesman chose not to respond.
According to Europol, Vasiliev’s arrest was a result of a 2021 multinational effort by French, Americans. And Ukrainian law enforcement that led to the capture of two ransomware operators in Ukraine.
This past summer, Lockbit released malware version 3.0 with a flourish and a rallying cry to “Make Ransomware Great Again!”
According to FBI-Newark Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, “Cyber criminals who harm secured systems, exploit privileged information or hold crucial files. And data hostage are a threat to our way of life”. The FBI will not watch helplessly as businesses and governmental organizations are destroyed. Or as their systems are tainted by these criminal opportunists.