- J Markezic and M Bacina
US DOJ seizes $28M in crypto from serial ransomware actor
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has seized US$28 million worth of cryptocurrency - primarily Bitcoin - from a hacker who is alleged to have participated in worldwide ransomware attacks.
The hacker - who the DOJ allege is a Canadian national - was extradited from Quebec to the US to face charges relating to his use of the NetWalker ransomware platform. US Attorney Roger B. Handberg said:
This case illustrates effective international law enforcement cooperation directed at identifying cybercriminals, holding them accountable for their alleged criminal actions, and recovering funds allegedly stolen from their victims.
Speaking more specifically on how critical co-operation between interstate law enforcement authorities is to respond to these hackers, Handberg went on to say:
Ransomware is a multi-billion-dollar criminal enterprise that transcends physical and political boundaries. International collaboration is essential to identify the perpetrators of these sophisticated schemes...
Earlier this year in Australia, proposed amendments to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Ransomware Action Plan) Bill 2020 were introduced to parliament to respond to the increasing concerns surrounding the use of ransomware. The proposed amendments would see hackers found guilty of ransomware attacks facing a jail sentence of up to 25 years, and gives the Australian Federal Police clearer legal authority to investigate and prosecute offshore gangs and seizure powers. The media / moral panic around ransomware as a threat appears to have subsided but vigilance around this form of crime will always remain key to businesses.