DOJ Bust Canadian Ransomware Attacker, Seize Over $450,000 In Extorted Cryptocurrency

(DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)

Jesse Stiller Contributor
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The Department of Justice has announced a bust against the NetWalker ransomware, resulting in one Canadian national being charged and the seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

The Justice Department took action against NetWalker on Thursday in an effort to disrupt the “sophisticated form of ransomware” that has reportedly impacted numerous industries, including the healthcare industry to take advantage of the crisis for extortion, The DOJ said in a statement.

Bulgaria’s National Investigative Service also took part in the raid, the Statement said, which resulted in a hidden dark-web resource, used as a communication hub between the attackers and victims, being seized.

The action against the ransomware resulted in charges against Canadian national Sébastien Vachon-Desjardins of Gatineau, who reportedly obtained $27.6 million from victims impacted by the scam, the statement read. Investigators also seized $454,630.19 in cryptocurrency from the ransom payments. (RELATED: FBI Says Extremist Charged With Carrying Pipe Bombs May Have Targeted Newsom, Twitter And Facebook)

“We are striking back against the growing threat of ransomware by not only bringing criminal charges against the responsible actors, but also disrupting criminal online infrastructure.” Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid said, adding that they were also recovering ransom payments.

The NetWalker ransomware, according to the DOJ citing Court documents, would operate as a “ransomware-as-a-service” program that allows developers to update the ransomware if needed. The program would encrypt a user’s data before delivering a ransom note with a demand and instructions for payment.