While most headlines concerning the US and Russia are focused on Ukraine, Moscow has arrested alleged members of the REvil ransomware group at the request of Washington.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Friday that it detained 14 individuals and over $1 million in assets. The FSB said the detained individuals are being accused of developing “malicious software and organized the theft of funds from the bank accounts of foreign citizens and cashed them out, including by purchasing expensive goods on the Internet.”
The FSB said it dismantled the organization entirely, adding that the investigation was prompted by “the request of competent US authorities” who were later “informed about the results of the operation.”
REvil has made a name for itself by targeting major companies in ransomware attacks, including Apple. A Biden administration official said one of the detained individuals was involved in the 2021 ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline.
The Biden official also touted diplomacy with Russia as the reason for the arrests and said it was not related to the current tensions surrounding Ukraine. “We welcome reports that the Kremlin is taking law enforcement steps to address ransomware emanating from its borders. The President believes in diplomacy,” the official said.
Despite the soaring tensions over Ukraine and the surrounding region, President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have maintained regular dialogue. When the two leaders met in Geneva back in June, they agreed to cooperate on cybersecurity and arms control and have held several calls since.