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U.S. Charges Russian Hacker In Ransomware Conspiracies

The U.S. is charging a Russian hacker accused of targeting hospitals, schools, and police departments in New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., in ransomware attacks. For information leading to his capture, federal officials are offering an award of $10 million. The Justice Department unsealed indictments accusing Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev, a Russian national, of being a member of ransomware conspiracies in hundreds of internet-based scams designed to extort money from U.S.-based victims. Matveev was charged with conspiring to transmit ransom demands, conspiring to damage protected computers, and intentionally damaging protected computers, court records show. If convicted, he faces over 20 years in prison, USA Today reports. "These malicious actors believe they can operate with impunity – and don’t fear getting caught because they sit in a country where they feel safe and protected. That may be the case now, but the safe harbor may not exist forever," said FBI agent James Dennehy in Newark. "When we have an opportunity, we will do everything in our power to bring Matveev and his ilk to justice."


Matveev, 30, is accused of using ransomware variants LockBit, Hive, and Babuk which helped him receive roughly $200 million in ransom from about 2,800 victims. Matveev's alleged victims included hospitals, businesses, nonprofits, including churches and charities, and government agencies, said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, Jr.. Matveev would send ransom demands to victims after infiltrating their computer systems, threatening to expose private data or keep their data inaccessible. Matveev also targeted police forces including the Prospect Park, N.J., Police Department in June 2020 and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department in April 2021. D.C. police were the victims of what experts called the worst-known ransomware attack on a U.S. police department after they refused to meet the ransom demands and suffered a massive data leak to the dark web. Intelligence reports and officers' personal information were leaked, including security information from other law enforcement agencies related to President Biden’s inauguration. Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah said the hacker penetrated computers by sending a phishing email that compromised computer files, which contained personal information about current and retired police officers.

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