Yakubets, who resides in Russia, could not be reached for comment.
Hackers in Russia have spent decades penetrating computer networks of retailers, banks, hospitals, and other businesses to steal sensitive personal information to sell on the black market, cybersecurity experts say. About 10 years ago, hackers began turning to ransomware, a shift that cybersecurity experts likened to a U.S. crime wave in the 1920s and 1930s in which gangsters turned from robbing banks to more profitable and easier kidnappings.
It’s a fairly simple scheme. Hackers trick people into clicking on an attachment or a link in an email that contains malware. The malware infects the servers and encrypts the data, locking out legitimate users, and hackers then demand a ransom payment in exchange for a key that reopens the networks.
Thanks to the popularity in difficult-to-trace cryptocurrencies, the crime has steadily proliferated. In 2015, the FBI reported, U.S. victims paid about $25 million in cyber ransom. By 2020, such victims paid at least $350 million in ransom to hackers, a 300% increase over the previous year, according to a report issued by the Institute for Security and Technology.
Hospitals, school systems and police departments are frequent victims because they either rely heavily on digital records or have relatively lackluster defenses. Cybersecurity experts say hackers also target companies that operate critical U.S. infrastructure, which often have deep pockets and face immense pressure to limit disruption of their services.
Originally Appeared Here