The Russian government said Friday it had arrested members of the criminal ransomware group known as REvil that has been blamed for major attacks against U.S. business and critical infrastructure, disrupting its operations at the request of U.S. authorities, reports the Wall Street Journal. Russia’s security service, the FSB, said it had halted REvil’s “illegal activities” and seized the group's funds from more than two dozen residences in Moscow, St. Petersburg and elsewhere. REvil members were arrested in relation to money-laundering charges, the FSB said.
U.S. officials have long accused Russia of claiming to prosecute hackers and other criminals that they later release and enlist to help in their government cyber operations. The operation against REvil would amount to one of the most significant steps Russia has taken against ransomware gangs. The group is one of the most notorious ransomware gangs in Russia and was blamed for major attacks last year in the U.S. that disrupted operations at a major meat supplier, for which it netted a ransom payment of $11 million, and another attack that affected about 1,500 businesses. President Biden identified ransomware attacks emanating from Russia to be a top national security threat, and he has repeatedly pressured Russian President Putin to crack down on criminal ransomware groups. Ransomware is a type of malicious cyberattack that locks up a computer system and holds data until the victim pays a ransom, usually in cryptocurrency.