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U.S. announces $10 million bounty for alleged LockBit ransomware creator

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Russian national Dimitry Yuryevich Khoroshev was indicted and now has a $10 million bounty on his head over his alleged involvement with LockBit

The Alleged LockBit Ransomware Mastermind Identified

Law enforcement agencies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia have jointly named Russian national Dmitry Yuryevich Khoroshev as the alleged operator of the LockBitSupp handle and the organizational mastermind behind the notorious LockBit ransomware group. The group has been involved in a multiyear hacking rampage, reportedly extorting an estimated $500 million from its victims.

For years, the leader of LockBit remained anonymous, hiding behind the online moniker LockBitSupp. However, law enforcement’s recent efforts have linked Khoroshev to LockBitSupp, following police infiltration of the group’s systems and several arrests. This operation, named Operation Cronos and led by the UK’s National Crime Agency, has disrupted LockBit’s activities and caused significant repercussions within the Russian cybercrime ecosystem.

Khoroshev has not only been identified but has also been sanctioned by the US, UK, and Australia. A 26-count indictment filed by the US Department of Justice lists numerous charges against Khoroshev, including conspiracy to commit fraud, extortion, and hacking, with a maximum penalty of 185 years in prison.

The indictment reveals that Khoroshev has been acting as the developer and administrator of the LockBit group since around September 2019, designing and developing its control panel used in ransomware attacks. The group managed to extort at least $500 million from victims in 120 countries worldwide, with Khoroshev reportedly receiving around $100 million from this criminal activity.

Despite the indictment and sanctions, Khoroshev has not responded to messages sent to email addresses listed in the sanctions. The investigation into LockBit’s operations has also uncovered details about the scale and scope of its activities. LockBit listed 2,350 victims publicly on its leak site by the end of December 2023, with 7,000 unique victims targeted within its system.

The rise of LockBit as a ransomware-as-a-service platform marked a significant development in cybercrime. The group licensed its code to affiliate hackers who launched attacks and negotiated ransom payments, sharing profits with LockBit. Over time, LockBit became increasingly brazen, dominating the cybercrime ecosystem and drawing attention from law enforcement agencies.

LockBitSupp played a central role in the group’s operations, closely monitoring affiliates and maintaining databases of their activities. Despite law enforcement’s efforts to dismantle the group, LockBitSupp and its affiliates continued to conduct attacks, demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of cybercriminal networks.

The identification of Khoroshev and the disruption of LockBit’s operations represent significant victories for law enforcement agencies combating cybercrime. However, the ongoing challenge remains to dismantle these criminal networks and hold their perpetrators accountable for their actions.

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