UK Sanctions Seven Russian Ransomware Cyber Criminals

Russia spy - Shutterstock - © gubh83

Seven Russian nationals sanctioned by the UK and United States, in the first wave of co-ordinated action against ransomware attacks

Seven Russian cyber criminals, linked to the group behind some of the most damaging ransomware attacks in recent years, have been sanctioned by the UK and US.

The seven Russian nationals have had their assets frozen and travel bans imposed, in what the UK is calling “the first wave of new co-ordinated action against international cyber crime.”

They follow a lengthy investigation by the National Crime Agency into the crime group behind Trickbot malware, as well as the Conti and RYUK ransomware strains, among others.

UK, US sanctions

It comes after a Scottish MP this week admitted that that his personal email account has been successfully hacked by a suspected Russian group, amid “continuous” hacking attempts on his parliamentary account.

The UK/US sanctions follow a complex, large-scale and ongoing investigation led by the NCA.

The Russian individuals sanctioned are named as: Vitaliy Kovalev, Valery Sedletski, Valentin Karyagin, Maksim Mikhailov, Dmitry Pleshevskiy, Mikhail Iskritskiy and Ivan Vakhromeyev.

“This is a hugely significant moment for the UK and our collaborative efforts with OFAC to disrupt international cyber criminals,” said National Crime Agency director general Graeme Biggar.

“The sanctions are the first of their kind for the UK and signal the continuing campaign targeting those responsible for some of the most sophisticated and damaging ransomware that has impacted the UK and our allies,” said Biggar. “They show that these criminals and those that support them are not immune to UK action, and this is just one tool we will use to crack down on this threat and protect the public.”

“This is an excellent example of the dedication and expertise of the NCA team who have worked closely with partners on this complex investigation,” Biggar said. “We will continue to deploy our unique capabilities to expose cyber criminals and work alongside our international partners to hold those responsible to account, wherever they are in the world.”

“By sanctioning these cyber criminals, we are sending a clear signal to them and others involved in ransomware that they will be held to account,” added Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

“These cynical cyber attacks cause real damage to people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Cleverly. “We will always put our national security first by protecting the UK and our allies from serious organised crime – whatever its form and wherever it originates.”

Ransomware victims

The government said that the ransomware strains known as Conti and Ryuk affected 149 UK individuals and businesses.

The ransomware was responsible for extricating at least an estimated £27 million from its victims.

There were 104 UK victims of the Conti strain who paid approximately £10 million and 45 victims of the Ryuk strain who paid approximately £17 million.

UK and US authorities this announcement of sanctions against seven individuals marks the start of a campaign of coordinated action against ransomware actors being led by the UK and US.