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US requests extradition of suspected ransomware money launderer

 |  Today Headlines

US requests extradition of suspected ransomware money launderer

| Today Headlines | Yahoo news

The US Department of Justice is seeking the extradition of Denis Dubnikov, 29, who is accused of receiving more than $ 400,000 in cryptocurrency linked to the payment of ransoms, according to a copy of the extradition request reviewed by CNN.

Dubnikov’s attorney, Arkady Bukh, said his client was traveling to Mexico on vacation when he was arrested and put on a plane to the Netherlands in early November. Bukh said Dubnikov denies any wrongdoing and intends, for now, to fight the extradition process.

It is one of the most significant measures ever taken by US law enforcement against the Ryuk ransomware, which was implicated in a wave of hacks against US healthcare organizations last year. A hack involving Ryuk reportedly forced hospitals in the University of Vermont health network to delay chemotherapy and mammography appointments.

Ryuk’s endemic nature prompted the FBI and other federal agencies to warn the public in October 2020 of an “imminent” threat to US hospitals and healthcare providers.

A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry declined to comment on the Dubnikov case.

The Wall Street Journal first reported on the Justice Department’s extradition request for Dubnikov.
The Dubnikov case is part of an ongoing US and European law enforcement offensive against ransomware gangs in Eastern Europe and Russia that have extorted millions of dollars from companies. On Monday, the Justice Department announced the arrest of a Ukrainian man accused of using another type of ransomware against an American software company over the weekend of July 4.

In June, President Joe Biden called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action against ransomware gangs operating from Russian soil. US officials say it is too early to say whether there will be a lasting change in Russian behavior.

Over the past three years, ransomware attacks involving Ryuk against hospital networks and other organizations have stood out for their insensitivity. The ransomware has claimed thousands of lives around the world and regularly extracts six-figure ransom payments, according to the FBI and private sector analysts.

Charles Carmakal, a cybersecurity official who investigated ransomware attacks using Ryuk, called the cybercriminals “brazen and heartless.”

“Doctors and other caregivers have been excluded from the systems needed to manage emergency departments and provide patient care,” said Carmakal, senior vice president and chief technology officer at cybersecurity company Mandiant. “Many health care organizations felt pressured to pay large extortion demands because they feared the potential impact on human lives if they could not recover their health care operations.”

This story was updated with further developments on Friday.

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